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Top lawyers for Google, Twitter, and Facebook (from left to right) testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

The head of Ukraine's presidential administration, Dmytro Shymkiv, told the Financial Times that his country's government warned Facebook and U.S. officials in 2015 that Russia was using "aggressive behavior" to spread disinformation on social media in an "information war." Shymkiv said Facebook's response was that they're an "open platform" that allows everyone to communicate.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian assertions suggest that Russian fake news was detected much earlier than the tech giants have so far let on. Axios reported yesterday that a former FBI agent had detected Russia's use of fake news and automated bots in 2014. The investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and big tech's role has come to a head this week with interrogations of Google, Twitter and Facebook by both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Facebook's defense:

  • Richard Allen, Facebook's vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said the conversations the team had with the Ukrainian government in 2014 and 2015 were about Facebook's "handling of reports by Russians to get Ukrainian content taken down from our platform, not about fake news or attempts to spread messages."
  • He added that the reported behavior they observed "bore no resemblance" to information operations they saw in connection to the 2016 election.
  • "The Ukrainian government has more recently raised the issue of fake news with us but this was only in 2017 after the U.S. election," he said.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.