Twitter and Facebook have finally gotten on the bandwagon of technology companies who refuse to provide a platform for white supremacists, Nazi’s, the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right.
Twitter just took down accounts belonging to neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer https://t.co/mncdRjSlgx pic.twitter.com/0enEQEz3sR
— The Independent (@Independent) August 17, 2017
Hate groups such as the white supremacist news organ The Daily Stormer received a huge rush of publicity out of the violent and deadly rally in Charlottesville over the weekend, pushing it from cult obscurity to a mass market profile.
While their actions made many Americans angry and sick at heart, these groups saw the sudden visibility and free publicity as the boon they have long sought.
They saw this as an opportunity to spew their bile to a much wider audience and to attract thousands of new members to join with the haters already marching with Swastikas or in white robes or hiding behind their computer screens.
“They don’t want to hide, they want to recruit,: Linda Woolf, a psychology professor at Webster University in Missouri who studies hate groups told USA Today “They’ll do whatever they can to reach people.”
However, the same technology infrastructure that gave them visibility on the world wide web has snapped back and shut The Daily Stormer and others down, making it clear they do not want to be associated with the neo-Nazis or the killer Klan or the alt-right.
Both Twitter and Facebook, citing free speech issues, had been slow to follow Google (and YouTube), Go Daddy, Instagram, Linkedin, Spotify, Zoho, Sendgrid, Discord, Discourse and others who denied the hate groups service on their platforms and in their chatrooms.
Now, however, both have joined the chorus of those denouncing the hate criminals.
In an email to The Hill, Twitter explained the shift in their position without naming individuals or companies now blocked:
“The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”
Facebook also responded to a query from The Hill by saying that it was deleting links to the Daily Stormer’s site from its platform.
Reuters reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm.”
The Daily Stormer turned to the dark web, where users need a special browser, and the available audience is much smaller than on the world wide web.
So The Daily Stormer looked to do an end run around the American tech companies by registering domains with services in Russia and China, which would effectively put them back on many of the most popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.
In Russia, it became dailystormer.ru and in China dailystormer.wang.
That didn’t last long. The Russian domain went dark shortly after it went up when Cloudflare, a network that protects websites against cyber attacks, terminated the Daily Stormer’s account.
"the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough"-Cloudflare’s CEO
Update from internal email https://t.co/GJmCDOJnUv
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) August 16, 2017
“I realized there was no way we were going to have that conversation with people calling us Nazis,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince told Gizmodo. “The Daily Stormer site was bragging on their bulletin boards about how Cloudflare was one of them and that is the opposite of everything we believe. That was the tipping point for me.”
Daily Stormer keeps getting shut down.
— SFC RETIRED ARMY (@iamchristysmith) August 17, 2017
A Chinese company, Zodiac Wang Ltd, which registers wang domains in China, did not respond to a request for comment from USA Today, but Daily Stormer is off that as well.
Silicon Valley has long held that due to free speech rules they were not going to take down sites, or refuse to host companies, that are known for hate speech – as long as it did not violate the law.
The wave of reaction after Charlottesville marks a change in direction.
“The wave of internet crackdowns against white nationalists and neo-Nazis,” reports Reuters, “reflected a rapidly changing mindset among Silicon Valley firms on how far they are willing to go to police hate speech.”
Right now, #Nazis who want to read "Daily Stormer" need a Ouija board and a magic 8 ball.
Right where they belong.
— Dead Nazithatcoming (@deadnazisinhell) August 17, 2017
The hate groups have a history of using the latest technology in novel ways to get around any censorship or rules against their disgusting content. Like cockroaches, they will continue to rise from even this tech holocaust and find ways to reach fans, donors, and recruits.
For now, however, it is heartening to see that the tech community is responding to the national crisis caused by the rise of the haters who are living large in the shade of a president who is as twisted as they are.
These tech companies can’t shut the door on the President of the United States, but they can cut out his evil spawn the way a surgeon slices out cancer to keep the body healthy.
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