It looks like that a few web services and app providers are giving white nationalists the boot…
Firms like Twitter, Spotify, chat app Discord, and even famously anti-censorship Cloudflare are taking action against racists and neo-Nazis on their platforms, following this weekend’s deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s a significant change of heart for the tech industry, which has historically positioned itself as pro-“free speech.” But the rally led to a collective reassessment of the responsibilities of tech companies for the content they host and support.
Here’s a (non-comprehensive) sample of the action taken by tech businesses over the last week:
GoDaddy, a web-hosting service, booted the notorious neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, off its platform. The site moved to Google — which promptly ejected it too.
Apple’s payment service Apple Pay is cutting off white supremacists, disabling payment support for websites that sell racist and neo-Nazi apparel, BuzzFeed News reported.
Twitter suspended accounts associated with the Daily Stormer.
Facebook, which already has rules in place banning “hate speech” (unlike Twitter), banned accounts (on Facebook and Instagram) of at least one white nationalist who attended the rally. “It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
Discord, a chat platform that has been popular with the racist “alt-right” movement, cracked down on hate groups and shut down an alt-right server.
Spotify moved to remove “hate bands” from its music streaming service, telling Reuters: “Illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us.”
Cloudflare, a service that protects websites from DDoS cyber-attacks, stopped protecting the Daily Stormer — despite its previous commitments to be totally neutral as to the content it guards.
Domain registrar and hosting service Squarespace has ditched white nationalist customers including Richard Spencer.
And these groups acknowledge the pinch…
While President Donald Trump spent the week generating goodwill among the varied white nationalist groups that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, a wide swath of corporations, universities and localities were pushing back against them….
“I can’t think of another incident to which the backlash has been nearly so widespread,” Mark Pitcavage, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.
Most of the white nationalist, far-right and “anti-communist” groups that spoke with TPM acknowledged that squeeze, in addition to their association with a gory rally attended by neo-Nazis and decorated Ku Klux Klan members, as a setback. But the gloss they put on it varied widely: A number of group leaders insisted that the exposure they received through the “Unite the Right” rally is worth any ensuing hardship, and that other social media and web domain platforms will crop up to service their needs. Others described the ongoing backlash as a huge blow.
A Charlottesville organizer and white nationalist podcast host who goes by the pseudonym Caerulus Rex told TPM that his PayPal account had been terminated in the wake of Charlottesville. But Rex insisted that such moves would not “silence us.”
“There are already services stepping up to accept the money that paypal and the like dont want,” Rex said in an email. “Those companies that started refusing us service created an opportunity for tech savy [sic] individuals to profit by not being offended by the truth.”
I guess the “free speech” argument was beat by the fact that these white nationalists are repugnant to most people. And even those decision makers who are business minded see the that these groups are not really good for business.