Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A pileup of controversies over how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft moderate content on their sites is highlighting how thoroughly major tech companies have become arbiters of speech.

Why it matters: This isn't a job Silicon Valley wants — these companies have long argued the value of freewheeling, unsupervised, boundary-stretching online discourse. But it's the new normal in a media world where power to publish and unpublish now sits with a few companies that aren't prepared for that role.

In just the last 10 days, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft and other tech giants have, separately or together:

Users expect Facebook and the other platforms to wear many new hats:

  • generals in a war on fake news,
  • judges in cases of inflammatory speech,
  • regulators of potentially harmful information and disinformation,
  • and peacekeepers at the ragged edges of social and political norms

Those are the functions of government, not business — or they have been until now.

My thought bubble: Remember Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule: "If you break it, you own it"? That was about the Iraq war; this is the digital media equivalent. Over the past decade, Facebook, Google, and their peers broke the public sphere. Now they own it.

This isn't just a problem in the U.S. If anything, as Max Fisher points out in the New York Times, the danger of Facebook as a hate amplifier emerged first in places like Myanmar, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, where angry online mobs have translated all too readily into physical-world violence.

  • Meanwhile, as Global Voices documents, governments in the Middle East have figured out how to weaponize user flagging of harmful content as a tool to suppress dissent.

Be smart: This wave of moderation controversies come alongside an equally vast and consequential series of conflicts over privacy, as the public becomes more aware of, and troubled by, how much personal data social networks, online retailers and ad networks have amassed.

  • Cambridge Analytica was a perfect storm for Facebook because it brought fears of privacy intrusion and concerns over inflammatory content together in one package.

The bottom line: Together, the moderation disputes and privacy debates point to a future in which Facebook and its peers face a tough choice: Get good, fast, at being quasi-governments themselves — or hand the mess back to real governments and return to writing code and making money.

Go deeper: How content moderation defines tech platforms

Go deeper

22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Beto not even best Dem against Abbott

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Delayed maps upend midterm campaigns

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Midterm candidates are panicking about how the congressional maps will ultimately be drawn, with several strategists telling Axios campaigns are in limbo.

Why it matters: Candidates are unsure if the district they're targeting will remain intact or be reshaped by the process. The uncertainty is especially vexing to Democrats, who are vying to maintain their narrow margin in the House.

First look: Conservatives' 2022 big target: Tax increases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!