Trump calls on states to ‘punish’ big tech with sanctions if they ‘silence conservative voices’

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • During his CPAC speech, Donald Trump accused big tech of censorship.
  • He said section 230 should be repealed and that states should act if the federal government won’t.
  • Trump said states should sanction Twitter, Google, and Facebook if they “silence conservative voices.”
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During his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, former President Donald Trump encouraged states to “punish” big tech if they “silence conservative voices.”

Trump spoke on the final day of CPAC in Orlando, Florida. It was his first public speech since leaving the White House last month.

“All of the election integrity measures in the world will mean nothing if we don’t have free speech,” Trump said. “If republicans can be censored for speaking the truth and calling out corruption, we will not have democracy and we will only have left-wing tyranny.”

Trump has frequently accused tech companies of censorship over his removal from both Facebook and Twitter for violating their policies.

“The time has come to break up big tech monopolies and restore fair competition,” Trump said, adding that section 230 – a piece of internet legislation passed into law as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 – must be repealed.

Section 230 gives websites the ability to regulate the content that appears on their platforms. It also protects sites from being legally liable for content shared by users.

“If the federal government refuses to act then every state in the union where we have the votes – which is a lot of them – big tech giants like Twitter, Google, and Facebook should be punished with major sanctions whenever they silence conservative voices,” Trump said.

Trump cited Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced new proposals earlier this month aimed at social media companies. One proposal aims to block the suspension of accounts of political candidates and would impose fines for each day said account is blocked.

It’s unclear if the state would have the authority to enforce such laws, the Associated Press reported.

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Venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan reportedly suggested doxxing a journalist who reported on narratives he didn’t like

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Balaji Srinivasan speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017.

Tech investor Balaji Srinivasan reportedly suggested doxxing a journalist who wanted to report on ties between Silicon Valley and the neoreactionary movement, a neo-fascist philosophy embraced by the alt-right and some tech elite.

Srinivasan made the suggestion in 2013 in an email to far-right blogger Curtis Yarvin, the New York Times reported Saturday.

“If things get hot, it may be interesting to sic the Dark Enlightenment audience on a single vulnerable hostile reporter to dox them and turn them inside out with hostile reporting sent to *their* advertisers/friends/contacts,” read the email from Srinivasan, according to The New York Times.

The Dark Enlightenment is another name for the neoreactionary movement.

The email from Srinivasan to Yarvin came after the tech news site TechCrunch published an article exploring Silicon Valley’s links to the anti-democratic neoreactionary philosophy, the New York Times said. 

Srinivasan did not respond to an Insider request seeking comment about the alleged email. 

The New York Times article, titled “Silicon Valley’s Safe Space” by the Times’ technology corespondent Cade Metz, takes a deep dive into the website Slate Star Codex, a blog popular among Silicon Valley power players.

Read more: How Biden’s Pentagon plans to win back Silicon Valley and get the tech talent it needs, according to experts

 “Many in the tech industry saw the attitudes fostered on Slate Star Codex as a better way forward. They deeply distrusted the mainstream media and generally preferred discussion to take place on their own terms, without scrutiny from the outside world,” Metz wrote.

Read more: How Silicon Valley banished Donald Trump in 48 hours 

The alleged email garnered attention from tech reporters. “So important to remember that these bad faith attacks by Balaji etc are intentional. Their goal is to ruin your life w/ doxxing, online abuse and harassment, these men know what they’re doing,” New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz tweeted. 

 

Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of the Verge, responded in a tweet,“This is straight GamerGate tactics, used by wealthy and connected tech investors.”

Some distrust of the mainstream media has circulated in Silicon Valley for years.

Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted “(Formerly) mainstream media has systemic negative & political bias about almost everything. Reading major newspapers makes you feel sad & angry.”

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z last month made waves with its strategy to build out its editorial and content strategy and publish its own news.

Sarah Cone, the founder and managing partner of Social Impact Capital, told Insider she believes journalists can oftentimes be unnecessarily hostile towards certain topics within the tech industry. She also encourages founders and VCs to eschew mainstream media and “go direct” with their messaging. 

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