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Illustration: NurPhoto/Getty Images

While world leaders joined with tech companies to sign a pact to combat terrorists and extremists online, the Trump White House broke from the agreement and offered its own tool Wednesday for countering what it sees as censorship by tech platforms.

Why it matters: The move is a signal that the White House is looking to step up its fight against Silicon Valley companies over accusations of bias rather than work with them and its allies to reduce online threats.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris announced a call to action that will addresses the abuse of technology to spread terrorist content and extremism.

  • Over a dozen other countries endorsed the effort, including the U.K., Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Spain, and Sweden.
  • Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter put out a statement also endorsing the Christchurch Call. (Sources tell Axios' Ina Fried that Twitter's Jack Dorsey was the only tech CEO to show up to the meeting in Paris.)
  • Facebook also announced new restrictions on the use of its Facebook Live video service, which the New Zealand shooter used to broadcast his rampage.
  • But the Trump administration said in a statement citing free speech concerns that the U.S. "is not currently in a position to join the endorsement” of the Christchurch Call. The statement said that, instead, “the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech.”
  • The Christchurch Call itself consistently declares that efforts against extremist speech should be made "in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression."

Hours later, The White House launched a new tool that will allow any U.S. citizen to submit a complaint if they think they were unfairly censored on social media platforms.

  • Skeptics were quick to point out that the online form was not very sophisticated and could be easily gamed by anyone who wanted to troll the administration.
  • The White House says the tool is meant to help people share stories about ways social media platforms unfairly targeted their free speech, but the online form where users can submit requests also appears to be a mechanism for collecting their email addresses.

The big picture: Social media bias has become a major talking point for President Trump and conservatives who argue that Silicon Valley companies are biased against their viewpoints.

Be smart: This attitude demonstrates a reversal of candidate Trump's welcoming view of social media platforms.

  • At that time, the president told Axios that he liked platforms like Twitter and Facebook because they allowed him to reach voters in an unrestricted way, unlike the mainstream media.
  • Today, Trump uses Twitter as his main communications vehicle, often sending dozens of tweets in a single day, even as he ramps up the bias accusations.

What's next: Expect questions from Congressional Democrats and free speech activists about what the White House intends to do with the data and responses it collects from its new complaint tool.

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.

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