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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech companies are scrambling to take action to prevent Inauguration Day violence, taking matters into their own hands after the government was caught ill-prepared for last week's Capitol siege.

What's happening: Major firms are taking a range of steps to stop their platforms from being used to plan, incite or carry out violent acts in Washington, D.C.

Driving the news: Airbnb said Wednesday it is canceling existing reservations and blocking new ones in and around Washington, D.C., during inauguration week as federal officials remain on alert for potential violence.

  • Facebook says it's seeing more calls for violence as it monitors conversations on other websites. On its own platform, it's working to immediately remove content that could encourage future violence, including praise or positive representations of the attack on the Capitol.
  • Google told advertisers Wednesday that it would ban political ads, as well as any ads related to the Capitol insurrection, in an effort to reduce misinformation and abuse following the attack. Google rival Facebook's ad ban is still in place, and sources say it will likely remain until sometime after the inauguration.
  • YouTube said Tuesday that it has taken down newly posted video content from President Trump for violating its policies against inciting violence. In addition, the Google-owned platform has issued a "strike" against Trump's account, meaning the president can't upload new videos or livestream for at least a week.
  • Twitter has suspended more than 70,000 accounts for sharing QAnon content, and it's blocked keywords from its search and trending features that break its rules related to civic integrity and glorification of violence.

The big picture: Government failures to lead society through a slew of problems over the past year — from political unrest to the coronavirus pandemic — have led the public to place its trust in corporations to tackle society's biggest threats.

  • In addition to tech firms, many travel companies are also putting policies in place to address potential violence.
  • Various travel trade groups have called for banning the passengers involved with the mob on flights to D.C.

Between the lines: These efforts aren't entirely altruistic. Companies are also trying to avoid blame for potentially providing platforms for domestic terrorists to plot attacks.

  • In the past week, many tech firms have banned accounts belonging to Trump and a growing list of fringe-right users in an effort to stop extremists from planning attacks or inciting further violence.

Go deeper

Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.