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Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images.

TikTok on Wednesday unveiled a group of outside advisers with expertise in child safety, hate speech, misinformation and other areas that will help guide its content moderation policies.

The big picture: Online platforms are facing intense scrutiny from lawmakers and even the Justice Department over how they decide what their users can and can't say and do.

Details: The Content Advisory Council will discuss existing and potential future policies against misinformation and election interference at its first meeting later this month, TikTok U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas wrote in a blog post.

  • Dawn Nunziato, a George Washington University Law School professor and co-director of the Global Internet Freedom Project who specializes in online free speech issues, will chair the council.

Other members include:

  • Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami Law School professor and critic of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives online companies broad license to moderate their platforms as they see fit;
  • Rob Atkinson, the president of the tech policy think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; and
  • Hany Farid, a UC Berkeley professor who focuses on digital image analysis.

"We want to surround ourselves with experts who can both evaluate the actions we've taken and provide guidance on additional measures we could be pursuing," Pappas said.

Background: TikTok in October said it was working with lawyers from the firm K&L Gates — including former Congressmen Bart Gordon and Jeff Denham — to help form the external advisory group.

  • The company faces criticism from lawmakers on issues including privacy, content moderation, security and its ties to China, with Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Rick Scott introducing a bill that would ban federal government employees from using the video sharing app on their work devices.
  • In January, TikTok updated its community standards, providing more details on content it deems unacceptable and its approach to misinformation.
  • And earlier this month, TikTok said it would open a transparency center in Los Angeles that will allow experts to observe its content-moderation process.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
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  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”