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Richard Drew / AP

Over the past few weeks, social media controversies around election meddling, fake news, and censorship have put tech platforms on the hot seat. Three of the biggest platforms involved — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — have all slowly introduced changes to their policies in response to pressure, mostly from lawmakers, as well as users and advertisers.

Regulators say that the tech companies are doing better to combat homegrown extremism, but that more needs to be done.

Why it matters: These companies all have business models centered around scale, and are not incentivized to apply more scrutiny to the content or ads on their platforms unless pushed to do so by outside forces. It's the beginning of a wave of backlash against big tech in Washington and beyond for failing to police the content on its platforms for years.

  • Twitter, pressured by users, is rolling out new content acceptability policies to its Trust & Safety Council members in response to backlash about recent account and ad censorship. An email, obtained by Wired, includes enforcement policies that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Twitter says it will now take harsher actions on non-consensual nudity, unwanted sexual advances, hate symbols and imagery, violent groups and tweets that glorify violence. Earlier this week, it received backlash for banning the account of an actress who claimed Harvey Weinstein sexually abused her.
  • YouTube, pressured by advertisers, says its hiring more experts from different countries with expertise on localized approaches to complex issues like hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism, and it will apply tougher standards to content flagged as violating its policies. (Information about those new standards has not been revealed.) YouTube faced advertiser backlash for terrorist content on its platform in the Spring, and most recently was found to have been used by groups trying to spread disinformation during the election.
  • Facebook, pressured by lawmakers, says it's hiring 1,000 more people (unclear whether they are contractors or Facebook employees) to manually review ads, and says it will change its political advertising processes and tools for transparency in response to Russian-backed groups illegal buying ads on its platform.

Go deeper

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

2021 sees a record number of bills targeting trans youth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced over 60 bills targeting transgender children — a legislative boom since January that has beaten 2020's total number of anti-trans bills.

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates say the unprecedented push was catalyzed by backlash to Biden's election and the Supreme Court ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.