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Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

Trying to balance an open company culture against the pressures of Trump-era politics, Google last week rolled out new rules for internal debate, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The same dynamics that turned many public internet forums into free-fire zones between culture war antagonists and red state/blue state zealots have begun to roil the worlds inside Silicon Valley's walled gardens.

The background: Google found itself at the center of a firestorm last year after software engineer James Damore wrote a memo arguing that gender differences could explain why women are underrepresented in tech. Damore's memo went viral, spurring protests inside the company, and Google ended up firing him, which spurred further protests.

The rules: According to the Journal, the new community guidelines represent Google's first effort to set limits on expression in its halls and online discussion forums. They're broad, based on Google's values, open to interpretation, and designed to funnel conflict to human moderators.

The bottom line: Corporations aren't governments, but when they get large enough, they end up grappling with the same kinds of conflicts nations face, between free speech and free inquiry on one side and civility and respect on the other.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

34 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.