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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.

Go deeper

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."