Internet companies join backlash against neo-Nazi groups | News | DW | 17.08.2017
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Internet companies join backlash against neo-Nazi groups

Major tech firms are denying services to white supremacists in response to Charlottesville violence. The crackdown is a rare departure for an industry that has faced criticism for not doing enough to block hate speech.

Social media networks Twitter and LinkedIn, music service Spotify and security firm Cloudflare have become the latest internet firms to cut off services to hate groups or remove hate speech.

They join Google's parent company Alphabet, Facebook and domain provider GoDaddy, which have already taken steps to block groups propagating hatred.

'Kicked off the net'

Cloudflare, which protects some 6 million websites from hacking and other such attacks, on Wednesday dropped coverage of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, after it mocked the victim of a Charlottesville car attack.

The website takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda.

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"I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the internet," Cloudflare founder and Chief Executive Matthew Prince said in an email to employees. "Like a lot of people, we've felt angry at these hateful people for a long time."

Read more: White supremacy and neo-Nazis in the US - what you need to know

Daily Stormer helped organize the weekend rally in Charlottesville where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man drove a car into protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally.

The access to the website has been sporadic since Monday after GoDaddy and Google Domains, a unit of Alphabet, refused to serve the website. Google said the website violated its terms of service.

Daily Stormer made a brief comeback on Wednesday with a Russian domain name and registration. But the site is no longer accessible at that .ru address. 

Akexander Zharov, the head of Russia's federal communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, said in a statement on Thursday that the organization had called on the domain registrar Ru-center to drop the Daily Stormer's site access "as soon as possible."

The website "promotes neo-Nazi ideology and fuels racist, nationalist and other types of hatred," Zharov added.

Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin responded to the dropped domain hosting with defiance. "Clearly, the powers that be believe that they have the ability to simply kick me off the internet," Anglin said, also telling his supporters that his website would be back soon.

United against neo-Nazis

Twitter on Wednesday suspended accounts linked to Daily Stormer, while LinkedIn suspended a page devoted to the website.

Facebook - Representative image

Facebook has been taking down pages linked to hate groups in recent days.

Facebook has also been taking down several pages linked to hate speech or hate groups in the past few days, including the event page that was used to promote and organize the "Unite the Right" rally.

"With the potential for more rallies, we're watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Wednesday.

One of the people on the receiving end of Facebook's actions was Chris Cantwell, a web commentator who has described himself as a white nationalist. Cantwell's YouTube account also appeared to have been terminated.

Reddit has removed one of its discussion communities that supported the Unite the Right rally. It said it would ban users who incite violence.

Sweden-based Spotify is in the process removing the racist "hate bands" flagged by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes in the US.

cmb, ap/sms (Reuters, AP)

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