1/ House Democrats – again – postponed a vote on the $1 trillion Senate-approved infrastructure bill, pushing off its consideration until at least next week. The delay followed a visit to Capitol Hill by Biden, who asked House Democrats to support both the infrastructure plan and the separate social policy and climate change framework, saying: “We are at an inflection point. The rest of the world wonders whether we can function […] I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities – and my presidency – will be determined by what happens in the next week.” Progressive Democrats, however, blocked the scheduled vote, saying they wanted to review the written legislative text of the $1.75 trillion social spending outline – and receive assurances that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would vote for it, which neither have outright given. The House, meanwhile, passed another temporary extension for highway funding until Dec. 3 – the same deadline to address government funding and a debt ceiling default. The Senate unanimously approved that extension after it passed the House. (Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / NBC News)
2/ The FDA authorized Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children 5 to 11. About 28 million children will be eligible to receive the pediatric doses, which are one-third of an adult dose. The Biden administration said it’s already procured 15 million doses that are ready to ship once the CDC signs off, which could happen early next week. Children will still need two injections three weeks apart. (New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC)
3/ Facebook relaxed its content moderation efforts before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. After the election on Nov. 6, 2020, the company rolled back many of the anti-violence, -misinformation, and -hate speech safeguards it had put into place for U.S. users. Despite banning the main “Stop the Steal” Facebook group, the company allowed dozens of similar and look-alike groups to flourish on the platform. Facebook would later describe the formation of those look-alike groups as a “coordinated” campaign, according to the leaked documents. By the time the company attempted to reign in the spread of the groups, a mob was already storming the steps of the Capitol. (Washington Post / New York Times)
Thousands of leaked internal Facebook documents revealed how the company caused or contributed to a long list of atrocities and other real-world harms and that the people in charge of the company were fully aware of the platform’s role. The documents, known as the Facebook Papers, show how the company and its executives privately and meticulously tracked how Facebook exacerbated ongoing crises, ignored warnings from employees about risky design decisions, and how it exposed vulnerable communities to a series of physical and psychological harms. The documents were provided to Congress by whistleblower Frances Haugen, while redacted copies were sent to a consortium of newsrooms. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
Mark Zuckerberg frequently made public statements that conflicted with his company’s own internal research and reports. Frances Haugen cited at least 20 public statements by Zuckerberg in which she asserted his unique level of control over the company caused him to bear command responsibility for the variety of social harms it caused. Yet Zuckerberg’s public statements frequently denied or deflected any such responsibility, including during his 2020 testimony before Congress when he claimed the company removes 94% of hate speech it finds on its platform before a human reports it. The leaked documents revealed that number was actually less than 5%. (Washington Post)
Facebook employees complained that they had been “actively held back” by their superiors at the company when they tried to make changes. Following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Facebook announced that it would ban Trump’s account for 24 hours, sparking backlash from Facebook employees. “Do you genuinely think 24 hours is a meaningful ban?” one staffer posted on an internal message board. “How are we expected to ignore when leadership overrides research based policy decisions to better serve people like the groups inciting violence today,” the staffer wrote. “Rank and file workers have done their part to identify changes to improve our platform but have been actively held back.” (The Atlantic)
Facebook took years to fix issues surrounding anger and misinformation on its platform. In 2017, the company began weighting the “angry” emoji reaction button at five times the value of the “like” reaction. Facebook’s own data scientists later concluded that the “angry,” “wow,” and “haha” reactions appeared more frequently on posts the company deemed “toxic” or those that contained misinformation. Facebook waited until 2020 to rebalance the weight of each reaction. After the fix was implemented, users began to get less misinformation, less “disturbing” content and less “graphic violence.” (Washington Post)
4/ At least 12 Republicans who participated in the Jan. 6 rally are running for office next week. The candidates include state legislators running for reelection, as well as local officials, and candidates seeking statehouse seats. Of the 12 candidates, three said they only attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the insurrection and never went to the Capitol, while nine went to the Capitol but denied entering the building or haven’t spoken about their involvement. Election Day is Tuesday. (BuzzFeed News)
5/ The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is reportedly weighing criminal contempt charges for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and any other witness who defies a subpoena. Meadows was first subpoenaed more than a month ago, but hasn’t provided the requested documents or testimony. While the committee has indicated that Meadows has been “engaging” in negotiations over the terms of turning over documents and appearing for a deposition, one person with knowledge of the negotiations said it’s becoming “increasingly clear” that Meadows has “no real intention” of providing documents or testimony to the committee. One major focus of the investigation is what Trump knew in the lead-up to Jan. 6, and Meadows’ efforts to aid in overturning the 2020 presidential election. (CNN / The Guardian)
6/ Rep. Adam Kinzinger – a vocal Republican critic of Trump – announced that he will not run for reelection in 2022. Kinzinger announced his departure from Congress after the Democratic-led Illinois legislature adopted a new congressional map, which eliminated the Republican-majority district Kinzinger represented for the last decade. Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
7/ Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was charged with a misdemeanor sex crime. The criminal complaint alleges that Cuomo “intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place[d] his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim” and “onto her intimate body part” for “purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires.” The incident allegedly occurred on Dec. 7, 2020, at the governor’s mansion. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail or three years probation. (NBC News / Washington Post)
8/ The Supreme Court agreed to consider limiting the EPA’s authority to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. A group of 18 Republican-led states and several coal companies are challenging a lower-court ruling that vacated Trump administration rules, which had eased greenhouse gas standards. In January, a federal appeals court tossed out the industry-friendly Trump-era rules, saying they interpreted the Clean Air Act too narrowly. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
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