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Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will be interviewed by Axios' Mike Allen this Thursday at 9 a.m. in Washington. We'll livestream it on our site and on Facebook.

Why it matters: This will be the first public interview of a senior Facebook executive since revelations about Russian-backed groups buying Facebook ads to sway the election and it comes among growing in interest in Congress in the role big tech companies played.

Sound smart: This event is another in a long string of moves Facebook has made in the past month — from hiring political consulting firms, to public pleas for forgiveness, to taking out full-page newspaper ads — to reach lawmakers and political influencers in response to the Russia news. The company clearly thinks they have a major problem on their hands.

Some context going into the interview:

  • Wall Street isn't fazed by the Russia controversy: If you look at Facebook's financials, you would know have no idea they're going through a political crisis. Facebook's stock is at all-time highs. And perhaps that's because ...
  • Facebook's advertising business is doing surprisingly well: Facebook has been warning investors for months to expect ad revenue to "come down meaningfully" as ad load slowed in the News Feed. But they've continued to experience record advertising revenue growth, particularly off of users in North America — (more below). Aside from political advertisers that are frustrated with new manual review changes, many ad buyers tell Axios that Facebook is still a top advertising destination because of its effectiveness.
  • Capitol Hill is nowhere near passing anything significant that would affect big tech: Per Axios' David McCabe: Two Democrats are working on a bill that would place new disclosure requirements on digital political advertising. It's expected to be released in the near future but hasn't yet attracted a Republican co-sponsor. And even broader regulation hasn't gained traction yet. So focus your attention on...
  • Facebook's planned testimony before Congressional investigators: Per Axios' David McCabe: The company hasn't appeared before Congress in years, let alone over something as contentious as possible election meddling by a foreign power. They haven't announced a witness (or witnesses) for the House and Senate intelligence committee hearings that are both taking place on November 1 but whoever gets the assignment will face tough questions from lawmakers.

So far, Facebook's response has been changes to the way political/advocacy ads are bought and publicized on the platform, but political ads are a tiny fraction of Facebook's overall advertising business.

"Political spending even within the U.S. alone was not a top 10 (advertising) vertical for us," — Sandberg to investors on an earnings call in February.

Go deeper

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

14 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.