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Illustration: Greg Ruben / Axios

Facebook — once the darling of Silicon Valley, America and the world — is feeling rising heat and scrutiny everywhere it reaches:

  • Politicians fear it empowers corrupt actors, tips elections and enables lies. Hillary Clinton, a close ally of many at Facebook, went off on the company this past week.
  • Media companies fear it destroyed their business and turned the news industry into peasant serfs on the greedy overlord's land.
  • The intelligence community fears it emboldens terrorists, Russia and China — all hell-bent on manipulation and deadly mischief.
  • Facebook fans worry about their data safety and the quality of content the algorithm churns out.

The secretive company prides itself on its libertarian view of its platform, with the broadest daily reach of any company in the history of mankind. But it now realizes it needs to adjust faster than its culture is capable of adapting. So I asked tech executives to walk you through the view from the eye of the storm:

  • Facebook believes Robert Mueller's investigators are best-positioned to understand and explain to the public what happened in the election.
  • A Facebook spokesperson told me: "We are providing information to Special Counsel, including ads and related account information."
  • I've learned that although detailed findings have not been revealed, Facebook has used forensic techniques to get to the bottom of Russia-tainted electioneer activity on its platforms. Intelligence agencies may find still more activity that was cloaked.
  • Facebook will argue that both tech companies and governments are in uncharted territory, and will work with lawmakers in the U.S. and around the world. The company will resist most regulation, though.
  • Facebook will continue to say it can play a positive role in elections — helping people communicate directly with candidates, register to vote, learn the issues, and hold governments and elected officials accountable.
  • Facebook will remind users of ways it makes the world better, including Texans using social media to help rescue each other.
  • Facebook will contend that just as crime is never fully eradicated, social networks have to focus on staying ahead of people who misuse their platforms. But bad things will continue to unfold on all social networks. And Facebook anticipates more bad news cycles like the ones hitting them now.
  • Facebook is learning from the U.S. election, and removed more than 30,000 fake accounts in the run-up to the French elections in May.

Be smart: The global backlash against the tech giants, after years of generally romantic treatment by governments and the press, is one of 2017's uber-stories. Each new disclosure about Russian ads and fake news makes self-policing look less viable, and makes lawmakers and regulators hungrier to intervene.

Why it matters: If people think what they're reading on the social network might be fake, or that they may be being manipulated, that could be a massive long-term problem for a platform where ad revenue depends on keeping us happily addicted. A good experience is good for business.

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Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.