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Facebook pleases no one with Trump decision

Facebook's decision to ban former President Trump for another two years is drawing ire from both sides of the aisle, showing that the tech giant can't please anyone until the former president is either permanently banned or allowed back on the platform.

Why it matters: These decisions will only become more polarizing as platforms reckon with free speech issues from world leaders around the world.

  • By issuing a stern warning against Trump's account but leaving the door open to letting him back on if his behavior changes, Facebook is toeing a fine line.

Driving the news: A prolonged suspension is eliciting jeers from Facebook critics that argue the tech giant is pandering to conservatives.

  • “Either Facebook is refusing to take meaningful action out of fear of right-wing backlash or, worse, it is in cahoots with right-wing extremists," said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America.
  • "A two-year time-out for that is a joke," said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ senior policy counsel.
  • The decision is "cowardly, dangerous, and frankly an insult to all of those who died in the insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol," said Maria Tchijov, vice president at UltraViolet, a gender-justice organization.

Be smart: An outright ban would have likely played into conservative taunts that the platform is biased against conservatives.

  • "Facebook is suspending former President Trump for two years, but continuing to allow [Chinese Communist Party] propaganda, Assad, and human smugglers to use their platform," Rep. Ken Buck (R-Co) said.
  • "That is utter hypocrisy, and Facebook must be held accountable," he added.
  • Trump, in response to Facebook's decision, once again referred to the "2020 rigged presidential election." It's unclear whether language like that would get him suspended again, and it's unlikely his rhetoric will change.

The big picture: Platform bans and other disciplinary action against world leaders will likely contribute to a global balkanization of the internet.

  • On Friday, Nigeria banned Twitter days after the company removed a post from its president that threatened "to punish groups blamed for attacks on government buildings."
  • Facebook's decision on Friday to hold politicians to the same rules as everyone else moving forward means we may see more lawmakers around the globe suspended from the platform.

What to watch: Other platforms are likely watching to see how Facebook's handling of the situation could inform their policies.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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