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Photo Illustration: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican digital operatives are worrying about themselves and their clients after major technology companies cracked down on prominent conservative websites and organizations.

Why it matters: Amazon’s decision to remove the popular conservative social media site Parler from its hosting services, and Twitter’s suspensions of President Trump and tens of thousands of his supporters, have segments of the online right fearing they will be "deplatformed" themselves.

What's new: A handful of conservative digital professionals huddled virtually this week on an email list they share. The tone was despondent as they tried, in a series of emails forwarded to Axios, to figure out how to stay on the right side of technology industry standards.

Between the lines: The crackdowns have mainly focused on platforms where conspiracy theories have proliferated since Trump's election loss, and, in some cases, where last week's Capitol violence was fomented, encouraged and celebrated.

  • But the digital strategists on that email list were convinced that they might soon find themselves swept up in an ostensibly imminent wave of online censorship.
  • They view them as arbitrary and politically motivated.
  • “What is the threshold for knowing if a project is likely to get booted and shut down?” asked Colorado GOP strategist Allen Fuller. “Obviously, fomenting insurrection and violence is pretty clear ... but the line from there is not.”
  • “It just comes down to where the left wants to draw the line and they have no idea right now where that line is nor do they seem to care,” wrote Thomas Peters, the founder and CEO of the peer-to-peer text messaging software company RumbleUp.

Driving the news: Trump’s permanent suspension from Twitter on Friday was seismic. But it was far from the only platform to exile him.

  • His supporters flocked to rival social media platforms catering to his political brand. The most popular of them, Parler, was suspended by Amazon's AWS cloud service and is now suing.
  • GoDaddy booted the web’s most popular firearms forum, AR15.com, from its domain registration system Tuesday. The company told Axios it discovered content on the site "that both promoted and encouraged violence.”

For some conservatives, the answer is to remain as technologically self-sufficient as possible.

  • Tom Elliott, a former talk radio producer who founded the television and video clipping service Grabien, said his decision to build his own digital infrastructure behind the company was paying off.
  • “I've specifically avoided outsourcing functionality to outside tech vendors who've shown a willingness to be used on behalf of ‘social justice’ struggle sessions," Elliott said in an email to Axios.

Editor's note: This piece was updated with information on the email list, after being inadvertently cut during the editing process.

Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.