EFF warns blocking neo-Nazi sites may threaten free speech

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EFF warns blocking neo-Nazi sites may threaten free speech

Airbnb deleted accounts of users it suspected were trying to book rooms in Charlottesville before the event.

The Daily Stormer is a news and commentary operation aimed at neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and rooted in the meme- and troll-driven tactics of the so-called "alt-right".

Though many around the web were pleased to hear these companies were making an effort to eliminate hate speech from the web, the EFF claims taking such actions sets a unsafe precedent.

Shortly after neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer posted an article denigrating counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, the Web hosting company gave the site 24 hours to move its domain to another provider.

GoDaddy isn't The Daily Stormer's host, which means the site's content isn't on the company's servers, according to Race.

This prompted widespread outrage on Twitter, and led GoDaddy to investigate and, ultimately, ban The Daily Stormer for violating its terms of service.

The site has been forced into the "dark web", which means it can't be accessed through standard web browsers. (Though, as TechCrunch points out, hate groups continue to thrive online on many platforms.) Here's how seven tech companies are taking a stand.

"We are offering protection to the Daily Stormer simply as a protection of free speech", Bitmitigate owner Nicholas Lim told The Washington Times.

Twitter and Facebook have contributed to the rise of the divisive political climate, from their role in helping people spread fake news during the presidential election to the use of Twitter as a megaphone by President Trump.

In essence, Silicon Valley is confronting the "paradox of tolerance", the idea outlined by philosopher Karl Popper that a tolerant society must be intolerant of intolerance.

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 plowed a auto into a crowd protesting the white nationalist gathering. It's easy to support the decision to stifle some of that speech when you're talking about a neo-Nazi site; it would be much harder if the same companies disallowed less damaging speech.

OkCupid banned a white supremacist, Chris Cantwell, from its site as well.

The moves come as corporations scramble to distance themselves from the perception that they condone white supremacists, at least partly motivated by fear of tarnishing their brands.

VK also hosts other groups that organised the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Now, Russia is giving the white supremacists the boot as well. The blog found bands identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as white power music streaming on Spotify.

It's easy to justify cutting off service when it comes to Nazis. Cloudflare C.E.O. Matthew Prince said as much in an internal memo to his employees when he chose to ban the Daily Stormer this week. "Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision". "It was different than what I'd talked talked with our senior team about yesterday". Reversing the company's previous stance on not censoring content, founder and CEO Matthew Prince wrote in an internal email that he "woke up this morning in a bad mood and made a decision to kick them off the Internet".

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