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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

Updated 5 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker

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