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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Political players on both the right and the left are trying to use criticism of Silicon Valley as a new fundraising lever.

Why it matters: When both liberal and conservative operatives believe that beating up on tech companies will get supporters to open their wallets, big tech's already tarnished public image may be in for more bruising.

The pitches:

  • After widespread outrage last month over the administration's separation of migrants from their children, Demand Progress, a liberal group, asked for contributions to support its protest of tech companies doing business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Big tech is making millions off selling the government tools to jail immigrant families,” the group said on a donation page it linked to in a message sent last week.
  • Diamond and Silk, the conservative video personalities who have accused Facebook of suppressing their content, asked fans on April 25 to donate as they battled the social giant. “Like David and Goliath, the bigger they are the harder they fall,” they said.
  • On April 20, the National Republican Congressional Committee emailed a “rapid response poll” with the question “Do you think Facebook censors conservatives?” Recipients who entered their contact information were redirected to a donation page.
  • The right-leaning online video producer PragerU sent out a fundraising email in February pegged to its lawsuit against YouTube alleging censorship. It sent another email in May, after the suit was dismissed.

Between the lines: Political operators make their bones trying to figure out what issues motivate people to take concrete action, like giving money or voting. Silicon Valley may now be alarming enough as a boogeyman to serve that purpose.

Reality check: While favorability ratings for some individual large tech companies fell earlier this year, many still remain very popular for their convenience and often-free services.

Big picture: After a wave of criticism from the right over concerns about censorship on social platforms, several companies have increased their outreach to conservatives. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey earlier this year came to Washington to meet with conservative pundits, and Facebook has met with Republicans on Capitol Hill over the censorship concerns.

The left’s relationship with Big Tech has also become more complicated over the last two years. Though Silicon Valley had deep ties with the Obama administration, Democrats are furious about how Facebook was manipulated during the 2016 election, upset with Twitter’s light policing of the so-called alt-right and frustrated with cloud service companies that work with the Trump administration.

The bottom line: We don't yet know whether Americans care enough about criticisms of tech companies over censorship, privacy, or government contracts to drive their votes — or drive them away from Silicon Valley’s products. If the pitches keep coming, that means the bashing is working.

Go deeper

Updated 45 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

3D-printed houses seem poised to go mainstream

A rendering of a planned 3D-printed, net-zero-energy community in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photo: Mighty Buildings

3D-printed cement houses are about to take off, offering a cheaper, more efficient way to provide homes for those who need them — as long as they can be built in ways that don't worsen climate change.

Why it matters: Developers of 3D-printed homes think they can take on multiple challenges: the affordable housing crisis, the shortage of skilled labor and rising material costs.

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