Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

Facebook and Twitter are rolling out sweeping public relations campaigns, as well as product and operational changes, to re-assure critics that their products are safe for their users' health.

Why it matters: These companies see their business interests as intertwined with their ability to meet head-on the criticism that their products may be public health risks, and get ahead of scrutiny from global regulators.

  • Facebook hosted a Safety Summit in Washington Thursday as a part of a broader push to publicize their efforts around safety and security. The event was designed to offer information about their efforts around tech addiction, children's use, privacy and safety.
    • Facebook's Director of Research, David Ginsberg, acknowledged that well-being is a difficult area to study because so many factors are involved, from socioeconomic status to genetics. "But we know Facebook has a role, and we take that seriously."
  • Twitter announced Thursday it's requesting a proposal on how the company can study how it effects user wellbeing.
    • In a tweet, co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey conceded that executives didn’t fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences of its platform until now.

What a difference a year makes: A year ago these companies were taking heat for transparency around advertising metrics. Since then, they've had to reckon with their roles in combating violent extremism, promoting users' well-being and protecting elections from foreign meddling. Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google, have suddenly been forced to deal with complicated issues that have far-reaching effects beyond advertising dollars.

The other side: The companies are staring down campaign from critics dedicated to hammering home the argument that tech companies have achieved their success at the expense of users' well-being.

Working together: Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, told Axios' Kim Hart on Thursday that web companies are collaborating to improve the safety of their products.

"I find in the work that we do for safety that this is an area where the technology companies don’t behave in a particularly competitive way. It’s not really in any member of the industry’s best interest to have online technologies get defined as something that are unsafe.
— Facebook's Antigone Davis

Wall Street so far has hardly reacted to the press, academics, parents and medical professionals that have criticized tech companies for the impact of their products on user health. But that could change if the platforms are forced to make changes that compromise user growth or engagement.

Go deeper: Facebook grapples with balance of humans and technology for safety.

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.