Big Tech Companies Mobilize To Disrupt Texas Abortion Law

GoDaddy shuts down pro-life site after progressive pushback

Pro-abortion protesters in Texas (Photo by Sergio Flores / Getty Images)
September 7, 2021

Big tech companies are working to disrupt a recently passed Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks.

The law, called SB 8, has come under fire for a provision that lets private citizens report people who facilitate illegal abortions. In the days since it passed, tech companies have joined progressive groups to oppose the bill. GoDaddy, which hosts millions of websites, announced Friday that it would stop supporting a website that allows people to report violations of the law. Days later, Uber and Lyft announced they are establishing legal defense funds for any drivers who are charged with aiding and abetting an illegal abortion. The ride-sharing companies will each donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

The incident highlights the increasing power that internet platforms wield in politics. Amazon Web Services kicked off conservative social media app Parler after the app was accused of hosting January 6 rioters. Right-wing app Gab suffered a similar fate in 2018. And PayPal, which has actively censored activists in the past, has announced it will partner with the left-wing Anti-Defamation League to remove the accounts of groups it deems "extremist."

GoDaddy made its announcement in response to a left-wing pressure campaign. After the site was unveiled, activists on TikTok created an automated tool to spam the site with thousands of fake complaints and crude messages. TikTok users employed similar tactics to reduce attendance at a 2020 Trump rally in Tulsa, which they spammed with a wave of fake signups.

When users' attacks did not take the pro-life Texas website down, Gizmodo tech journalist Shoshana Wodinsky called on readers to complain directly to GoDaddy.

GoDaddy gave the website's owner, Texas Right to Life, 24 hours to find a different host for its site. As of Tuesday afternoon, the website no longer exists, and the URL redirects to the homepage for Texas Right to Life. In a statement posted on the group's website, Texas Right to Life director of media and communication Kimberlyn Schwartz wrote that the group "will not be silenced" and vowed to put the website back up.

Other tech companies have taken softer steps to oppose the Texas law. The CEO of Match Group, which owns Tinder and Hinge, announced her opposition to the bill and announced a fund for company employees in Texas to get abortions out of state. Dating app Bumble also created a fund for abortion groups.

Houston-based startup Solugen, a biotech firm backed by major Silicon Valley investors, said it will stop hiring for positions in Texas and look elsewhere. The company cautioned that Texas should change the legislation if it "wants to be a business friendly state." The city council of Portland, Ore., is debating a measure that would ban all purchases of goods or services from the state of Texas.

GoDaddy did not respond to a request for comment.

Published under: Abortion , Big Tech , Texas