Show an ad over header. AMP

Tech broadens moves to muzzle the far right after pro-Trump insurrection at U.S. Capitol

Twitter's decision Friday to kick President Trump off Twitter proved just the opening salvo in a broadening series of other consequential moves by tech companies cracking down on those who took part in or encouraged last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

Why it matters: The moves have renewed debate over how much power tech companies should have to decide whose content lives on the internet.


The big picture: Despite much outcry, the U.S. government has done next to nothing to regulate misinformation on large tech platforms — leaving the companies to set their own rules, which are often changed on the fly.

  • It's not just Twitter and Facebook that hold the key. Payment processors, hosting companies and other infrastructure providers operating behind the scenes also exercise considerable power.
  • They all cite terms-of-service agreements that bar incitement of violence as the basis for their bans.

Catch up quick: Since Twitter permanently banned Trump on Friday...

Together, these moves effectively limit both operation and distribution of the service, which says it is now looking to rebuild from the ground up.

Flashback: The involvement of infrastructure companies in adjudicating speech issues remains controversial.

Between the lines: Banning potentially dangerous speech doesn't necessarily end it. Sometimes the speech just gets pushed into more obscure online corners that are harder to observe and regulate.

  • 8chan, for example, changed its name to 8kun, found a new server, and lives on as an influential platform for conspiracies.

Meanwhile: Tech companies — including Apple and the cell phone carriers — are also finding themselves dealing with a variety of requests from law enforcement as agencies look to track down those who took part in the storming of the Capitol.

  • Many participants have been identified already through the work of citizens searching through publicly available social media.

Go deeper: All the platforms that have banned or restricted Trump so far

Kellyanne Conway: "Power should be used sparingly yet strategically"

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

Keep reading... Show less

Pro-Trump reps continue plan to oust Cheney

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Keep reading... Show less

Democrats aim to punish House Republicans for Capitol riot

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

Keep reading... Show less

Google's parent shuts down effort to deliver Internet via balloons

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, one of its "moonshots" which aimed to deliver Internet service via high-altitude balloons.

Why it matters: The effort was one of several approaches designed to get high-speed connectivity to some of the world's remote spots and also proved useful in the aftermath of disasters that shut down traditional infrastructure.

Keep reading... Show less

What has and hasn't changed as Biden takes over U.S. foreign policy

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

Keep reading... Show less

McConnell to propose February impeachment trial

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to propose later today that the impeachment trial of former President Trump begin in February to allow for due process, two sources familiar with the proposal tell Axios.

Why it matters: The impeachment trial is likely to grind other Senate business to a halt, including the confirmation process for President Biden's Cabinet nominees.

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: Net neutrality on the line under Biden

Federal net neutrality rules are back on the table in the Biden administration, after being nixed by Trump, but now might be complicated by the debate over social media companies' behavior.

Axios Re:Cap digs into why net neutrality matters and what comes next with Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge and host of the Decoder podcast.

House grants waiver for Biden's Pentagon pick Gen. Lloyd Austin

The House voted 326-78 on Thursday to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the way for the Senate to confirm President Biden's nominee for defense secretary as early as this week.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories