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Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.


"It is currently unclear to us whether or not Facebook is giving Donald Trump an unfair electoral advantage in this particular instance, but it is abundantly clear that Facebook was wholly unprepared to handle this election despite having four years to prepare," said Biden for President Digital Director Rob Flaherty in a statement provided to Axios.

Details: In a post addressing the issue, Facebook blamed the blockage on a technical glitch, and said it's investigating the issue. The tech giant asserted that "No ad was paused or rejected by a person, or because of any partisan consideration."

Catch up quick: Facebook implemented its new political ad ban rule — which restricts political or issues ads from its platform for the week leading up to the election — on Tuesday at midnight.

  • Advertisers had been racing to get their ads approved and running before the ban went into effect so they could continue to message voters for the week leading up to the election while also following Facebook's rules.

The big picture: The tech giant has been slammed by critics on both sides of the aisle for a lack of transparency in the way it enforces its policies, leading some to think it's biased against one political party over another.

  • On an earnings call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was focused on providing more transparency around the way its' platform is used and the way it makes policy decisions.

By the numbers: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg assured investors that political ads are only a tiny part of the company's bottom line on the same call. She noted that political and government ad revenue in the U.S. and globally was a low single-digit percentage of the company's total ad revenue in Q3.

  • “It's not a top 10 vertical in the U.S. and globally."

Be smart: Facebook often tries to downplay the role of political ads in its business, in an effort to make the case that its decision to keep ads on its platform is about its First Amendment values, not money.

  • The company keeps finding itself in complicated battles with both parties over its political ad policies.
  • Some of its competitors, like Twitter, have banned political ads for this reason.

Go deeper: Political ads become 2020 flashpoint

Raven Saunders says U.S. athletes planned "X" protests "for weeks"

Raven Saunders, the American Olympian facing a possible investigation for making a protest gesture on the podium over the weekend, told the New York Times Monday that U.S. athletes had planned "for weeks" to demonstrate against oppression.

Why it matters: Protests are banned at the Tokyo Games. Saunders told the NYT a group of American Olympians had settled on the "X" symbol, which she gestured on the podium after winning silver in the shot put Sunday, to represent "unity with oppressed people."

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Study: Social media giants failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts

Five social media giants failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts in May and June — and Facebook performed the worst despite announcing new rules to tackle the problem, a new report finds.

Driving the news: The Center for Countering Digital Hatred (CCDH) notes in its study that it reported 714 posts containing "anti-Jewish hatred" to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and TikTok — which were collectively viewed 7.3 million times. These "clearly violated" company policies, according to the CCDH.

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Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

Speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and the hope that her story will help convince

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

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Amazon may have violated law in Alabama warehouse vote, NLRB says

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., should hold a new election to determine whether to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the National Labor Relations Board said in a preliminary finding Monday.

Driving the news: The e-commerce giant may have illegally interfered in a mail-in election tallied in April on whether workers at the plant should unionize, according to a statement from an NLRB hearing officer assigned to the case.

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Evictions lead to rare clash between the White House and Dems

The White House and Democratic leaders have been dueling— publicly and privately — over who should take responsibility for extending an eviction moratorium that could protect millions of people on the verge of homelessness.

Why it matters: It's a rare moment of dysfunction between the usually-in-lockstep Biden team and congressional leadership.

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Lindsey Graham tests positive for COVID-19

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, despite being vaccinated.

Why it matters: Graham emphasized that the mildness of his symptoms is due to being vaccinated. If he had been unvaccinated his symptoms would be "far worse," he said.

U.S. consulting with U.K., Romania and Israel on response to alleged Iran attack

The British and Romanian governments summoned the Iranian ambassadors to London and Bucharest on Monday to protest last week's drone strike on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, which both countries have attributed to Iran.

The latest: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a briefing Monday that the U.S. is consulting with the U.K., Romania and Israel to prepare a collective response to the alleged Iranian attack.

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Pelosi urges White House to reinstate expired eviction moratorium

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is urging President Biden and his administration to renew and extend the eviction moratorium after the House failed to secure enough votes to pass legislation to prevent its lapse.

Why it matters: Millions of tenants across the country face the threat of eviction after the moratorium expired this weekend.

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