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!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

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: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Marathon congressional hearings on Russian election interference and social media left execs from Facebook, Google and Twitter badly bruised and with a new view of just how mad Washington is about their handling of content aiming to divide Americans.

The big takeaway: Lawmakers' rebukes went far beyond the companies' responses to Russia's interference. They also repeatedly revealed a discomfort with the size, power and limited accountability of the large web platforms.

What else we learned:

  • Washington isn't buying that Facebook, Google and Twitter aren't media companies. Both Republicans and Democrats seemed baffled at times by an assumption that has been fundamental to Google, Facebook and Twitter's growth: that they are neutral platforms for information, not judges of content. Multiple lawmakers questioned that argument: "That may well be a distinction that is lost on most of us, that you're just a platform for other people to express their views as opposed to being a publisher in their own right of those views," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
  • We now know what the Russian ads look like. Lawmakers released some of the Russian-bought ads, which were focused largely on divisive political issues like civil rights, immigration and religion. According to the metadata released, the ads targeted both Republicans and Democrats and were paid for in rubles. For example, one "Black Matters" ad targeted adults in Georgia, Maryland, Missouri and Virginia and received more than 200,000 impressions and more than 12,000 clicks. It cost 53,425 rubles ($915).
  • Still no backing for a regulatory fix. The only piece of concrete legislation tied to this issue is the Honest Ads Act, which would require disclosure for online political ads. While the companies all committed to improving transparency, and companies indicated that they could work with lawmakers on the bill, they did not endorse it.
  • Lawmakers felt slighted by the CEOs' absence. "I wish your CEOs were here," said Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, one of many lawmakers who voiced that sentiment. "They need to answer for this."
  • The companies are putting significant resources toward vetting content. During nine hours of hearings, they repeatedly touted how much they were investing in both money and personnel to solve the election interference issue. Facebook is doubling the people working on safety and security issues to 20,000 by the end of 2018, for example.
  • Democrats were the harshest critics. Silicon Valley has long had a strong relationship with the liberal left, but that didn't stop California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as tech ally Sen. Ron Wyden, from lacing into the witnesses. Republicans, while critical of the companies, stopped short of conceding that social media manipulation was a deciding factor in Donald Trump's win.
  • Congressional investigators are still learning the basics. One lawmaker asked Twitter's general counsel to explain the difference between a bot and a troll. Several inquired about the definition of "impressions." This highlights how steep the learning curve is for elected officials to fully grasp the nuances of what went wrong online in 2016.
  • Tech made a huge political miscalculation in not moving faster. Again and again, the companies were chided for how long it took them to deliver the goods to investigators. "I hear all your words," said Sen. Mark Warner, "but I have more than a little bit of frustration that many of us on this committee have been raising this issue since the beginning of this year, and our claims were frankly blown off by the leaderships of your companies."

What's next? All of the companies indicated their investigations are ongoing, so the scale of the Russian disinformation campaign could turn out to be even bigger than we know now.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Celebrities are America's new politicians

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Launching gubernatorial bids, making presidential endorsements, founding schools: Celebrities are getting increasingly involved in U.S. public and political life.

Why it matters: As we've reported, politics is no longer just the purview of career politicians, as companies and their CEOs throw their weight around to affect policies. Now, movie stars, famous musicians and professional athletes also are using their influence in politics.

Updated 17 mins ago - Sports

Baseball's minor leaguers get a major win

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starting next season, MLB teams will be required to provide housing for minor league players.

Why it matters: "This is a historic victory," Harry Marino, director of the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, told ESPN. It's also just the beginning of a fight for improved quality of life.

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."