Following the violent far right demonstrations in Charlottesville at the weekend, another two web services companies have terminated their business relationships with the Nazi propaganda website, The Daily Stormer.
The Daily Stormer, which spews racist, gender-based and homophobic hate speech on a daily basis, was used as a platform to help organize a violent white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville — and, afterwards, to celebrate the killing of anti-fascist protestor Heather Heyer, who died after a far right supporter drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors.
Earlier today cloud hosting platform Digital Ocean was publicly called out on Twitter for providing services to both The Daily Stormer and pro-hate speech crowdfunding platform Hatreon.
The latter has been embraced by the self-styled “alt-right” on account of its lack of hate speech guidelines.
Other similar digital services, including Patreon and PayPal, do have terms of service prohibiting hate speech and have been known to terminate accounts deemed to be promoting hate speech — pushing neo-Nazis to alternative platforms such as Hatreon.
A few hours after entrepreneur Ryan Block tweeted the above, drawing attention to Digital Ocean’s business relationship with The Daily Stormer, the company responded via Twitter to say its team had “investigated and determined this site violates our TOS by inciting violence or hate crimes”. “We’ve terminated their account,” it added.
In a further tweet-reply Digital Ocean confirmed it had also terminated Hatreon’s account.
We have questions in to Digital Ocean and expect an official response shortly — we’ll update this post when we have it.
A former Digital Ocean employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told TechCrunch: “DO is filled with lots of different people but most seemed care about equality, and were strongly opposed to hate. Further, as a corporation concerned with profit, I’m sure if hate sites are hosted there, they won’t be for long, as it’d affect the bottom line.”
Reached for comment on Digital Ocean’s decision, a Hatreon spokesman described it as “summary and regrettable”. “Meant for appeasement and likely in bad faith. We’ve respectfully asked to appeal but don’t believe they will provide a process,” he added.
At the time of writing The Daily Stormer appears to be offline again — and there’s a good reason for that: Cloudflare, which had been providing denial of service protection to the website, has apparently bowed to public pressure and terminated the site’s subscription as well.
Journalist Matthew Sheffield tweeted the news earlier, pointing to a post by The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin on social media site Gab apparently showing a screengrab of an email from Cloudflare informing him his Cloudflare Pro subscription is ending “now”.
We’ve reached out to Cloudflare for confirmation and comment, and will update this post when we hear back.
Yesterday a spokeswoman for the company avoided answering direct questions put to it about its ongoing business relationship with The Daily Stormer in light of events in Charlottesville, saying only that: “Cloudflare is aware of the concerns that have been raised over some sites that have used our network. We find the content on some of these sites repugnant. While our policy is to not comment on any user specifically, we are cooperating with law enforcement in any investigation.”
Several other tech firms had already responded to public outcry over fascist violence following Charlottesville by pulling the plug on The Daily Stormer — including Go Daddy, Google, SendGrid and Zoho. Despite that, the neo-Nazi propaganda site came briefly back online — after apparently being able to find a new domain host — before going down again, lacking the support of Cloudflare’s CDN.
News is continuing to drop about other tech firms taking action against hate speech — including Spotify removing music associated with white supremacists from its streaming service, and Squarespace terminating multiple “alt right” websites.
Social media giants have also been stepping up anti-hate speech action, including banning white supremacist accounts (Twitter), and removing links to The Daily Stormer article that celebrated the death of Heyer (Facebook).
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also posted a public comment relating to this action, in which he writes: “There is no place for hate in our community. That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism — including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm. We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.”