Tech Is Taking On White Supremacists…And Winning
Members of radical Christian hate groups have made plenty of headlines in the past few weeks, most recently for attacking counter-protestors who disagreed with their Nazi flags and faux Confederate flags. One woman was killed and others were wounded in what white supremacists claim would have been a peaceful protest if the other side hadn’t been legally permitted to voice their opinion, too. Politicians have weighed in with both promising and alarming results; while the president seems unwilling to put any blame on the anti-Jewish, anti-POC, well-armed Unite the Right participants, other steadfast members of his own party are swiftly distancing themselves from his views via social media.
But the public and political outcry isn’t good enough for some in the tech industry. Within hours of the Charlottesville, Virginia rally, several companies took action against the use of their platforms and products to promote hatred.
First news circulated that hacktivism group Anonymous had taken down the predominant US Nazi website, Daily Stormer. Later reports, though, indicated that web hosting platform GoDaddy actually gave the group 24 hours to remove their content as their site violated GoDaddy’s policies for acceptable speech. The website was removed, and then transferred to Google, which also dropped it like a hot rock.
Around the same time, gamer-centric chat app Discord struck all of the alt-right chat rooms from its servers in an effort to cut down on communications that violate their terms as well, while PayPal, Patreon, GoFundMe, and Airbnb have all taken action to limit or terminate accounts of those associated with the Virginia event.
So who hasn’t taken a stand? Social media. Facebook and Twitter have been under fire for quite some time for allowing (and some say, furthering) hate speech on their platforms. New indications that Facebook may finally be doing something about the problem have surfaced since last weekend’s deadly event.
Interestingly, multiple companies’ CEOs have stepped down from Trump’s manufacturing committee, citing his lukewarm response that placed equal blame on the anti-Nazi counter-protestors. While UnderArmor and Merck’s CEOs have made a vocal, public exit, the tech industry has stayed somewhat quiet on the larger stage, with only Intel’s CEO currently stepping down.