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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Twitter's decision Friday to kick President Trump off Twitter proved just the opening salvo in a broadening series of other consequential moves by tech companies cracking down on those who took part in or encouraged last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

Why it matters: The moves have renewed debate over how much power tech companies should have to decide whose content lives on the internet.

The big picture: Despite much outcry, the U.S. government has done next to nothing to regulate misinformation on large tech platforms — leaving the companies to set their own rules, which are often changed on the fly.

  • It's not just Twitter and Facebook that hold the key. Payment processors, hosting companies and other infrastructure providers operating behind the scenes also exercise considerable power.
  • They all cite terms-of-service agreements that bar incitement of violence as the basis for their bans.

Catch up quick: Since Twitter permanently banned Trump on Friday...

Together, these moves effectively limit both operation and distribution of the service, which says it is now looking to rebuild from the ground up.

Flashback: The involvement of infrastructure companies in adjudicating speech issues remains controversial.

Between the lines: Banning potentially dangerous speech doesn't necessarily end it. Sometimes the speech just gets pushed into more obscure online corners that are harder to observe and regulate.

  • 8chan, for example, changed its name to 8kun, found a new server, and lives on as an influential platform for conspiracies.

Meanwhile: Tech companies — including Apple and the cell phone carriers — are also finding themselves dealing with a variety of requests from law enforcement as agencies look to track down those who took part in the storming of the Capitol.

  • Many participants have been identified already through the work of citizens searching through publicly available social media.

Go deeper: All the platforms that have banned or restricted Trump so far

Go deeper

Jan 20, 2021 - 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.

Dave Lawler, author of World
22 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 41 mins ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.