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Screenshot from Facebook

Showing they plan to continue playing hardball with Big Tech, Democratic Senators Mark Warner (Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) created a Facebook page for a fictional political group — Americans for Disclosure Solutions (ADS) — then paid to target the newsfeeds of thousands of journalists and Hill staffers.

Why it matters: A Warner aide tells me the senator was surprised that "there was literally no mechanism on [Facebook] for us to [prove] we were who we said we were," adding, "it was really easy for Russian operatives to use the same micro-targeting tools as they attempted to meddle in last fall's presidential election ... [Y]ou can see why this would be so appealing to the Russians."

How they did it: Warner and Klobuchar — who have introduced a bill, backed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to require more disclosure about online politics ads — created a "Political Organization" page on Facebook for the fictional group.

  • "Using campaign funds in accordance with Senate ethics rules," according to aides, they "launched a small, 24-hour ad buy on Facebook targeting Washington, D.C. journalists and Capitol Hill staffers."
  • "For just $20, ... Warner and Klobuchar reached 1,369 self-identified Hill staffers in under 24 hours."
  • "For just $20, Warner and Klobuchar reached 1,407 Washington, D.C.-based journalists."

Be smart: Axios media trends reporter Sara Fischer, an authority on digital advertising, tells me (vehemently, BTW) that this experiment doesn't go far enough: That "reach" doesn't mean the targets saw the ad — just that they could have.

  • Sara emails: "In the political advertising world, you would need to serve at least 7-10 viewable impressions to a person over a short window, two-four weeks, to even begin driving intent or action."
  • "But the experiment shows how easy and cost-effective it is for anyone to access the tools to potentially build a political campaign on Facebook."

The takeaway: Facebook has been (belatedly) the most forthcoming of the three tech giants, but their political stop gates aren't in place yet: They say they're working on it, and it will take time.

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Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

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