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6 September 2021
In the wake of the Texan abortion ban, here's everything you need to know about tech companies weighing in on debate
Unsplash © Maria Oswalt

In the wake of the Texan abortion ban, here’s everything you need to know about tech companies weighing in on debate

Every week, Maddyness curates articles from other outlets on a topic that is driving the headlines. This week, we're talking about Texas' strictest abortion law yet, how an immense pro-choice campaign has launched on TikTok, and what Texas-based tech giants have to say.

This week, Texas state government enacted a law that would ban abortion after six weeks, the strictest legislation on abortion in the United States. The law not only deprives women of the right to access abortion after this period, but allows any citizen to sue those they believed have facilitated illegal abortion. To enforce this, Texan anti-choice organisation, Texas Right to Life, has created a website where anyone can send anonymous tips about potential violations of the law.

Campaigns across social media, including TikTok and Reddit, have now gathered in pace after pro-choice users have launched an immense effort to encourage their following to spam the website with fake tips, including Shrek memes, porn and fake reports of the Republican governor who signed the act into law, Greg Abbott.

One activist said he programmed a Python script and an iOS shortcut tool to submit reports to the tip website automatically. According to his data, both functions have now been used by over 8000 people each.

The site, which is now dealing with thousands of fake reports, is still live. Read more via The Guardian.

CEOs of US dating apps are creating relief funds

US-based, multinational dating apps have now committed to providing support for those seeking an abortion in the state via relief funds. Bumble, which is based in Austin, said it would continue to “fight against regressive laws” in a tweet last Wednesday.

The CEO of Match Group, which owns dating apps including Hinge and Tinder, said she would create a fund to support Texas-based employees seeking abortion care outside Texas. In a memo to employees, Shar Dubey said, “As I have said before, the company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business. But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent.”

The funding news was later confirmed by a company spokesperson to CNBC. Read more via NBC.

Corporate giants stay silent

But while the CEOS of Bumble and Match Group are weighing in on debate and providing funds, other multinational corporations based or headquartered in the state have remained quiet.

The Financial Times recently contacted more than a dozen Texas-based companies including American Airlines, Dell and AT&T, all of whom declined to comment or did not respond. The same companies have previously spoken out about strict abortion legislation in Texas and around the world.

Since 2010, big tech companies have been attracted to the state’s lack of personal income tax, low housing cost and abundance of workers, with many setting up a base in the capital, Austin. But campaigners are now worried that the flow of businesses into the state will now decline in light of tightening social policy legislation. Read more via The FT.

 Texas Governor unphased by concerns of tech pull out  

But despite the backlash from campaigners, Governor Greg Abbott has deflected concerns that tech companies will gradually begin to leave the state. The governor referred to a comment supposedly made to him by industry giant, Elon Musk, who said he was attracted to Texan social policies.

Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, Governor Abbott said, “Elon [Musk] had to get out of California because of the social policies in California.”

Musk has recently announced plans to build a new Tesla factory in Texas, but declined to comment on whether stricter social policies would influence his future decisions, or on the stricter abortion laws more generally.

In a tweet, Musk said, “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximise their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

Fast Company also reached out to companies who had commented on controversial legislation in the past or who have office space in Texas, including including Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google. Only Microsoft responded and declined to add any further opinions.

Read more via Fast Company.