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Tech Companies Crackdown On White Supremacist Websites

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Twitter, LinkedIn and Spotify are among the latest wave of companies to join tech giants like Facebook and Google in severing their ties to white supremacist websites.

On Aug. 13, one day after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, domain-hosting company GoDaddy sent a Twitter message to neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, telling them that they had "24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they had violated [their] terms of service."

According to USA Today, the Daily Stormer takes its name from former Nazi publication Der Sturmer.

GoDaddy, a company that, according to Quartz, had previously defended the Daily Stormer on grounds of free speech, pulled their domain support shortly after the website posted a story about the rally's car-attack victim, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, using harsh and sexist language. 

"In our determination, especially given the tragic events in Charlottesville, crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence," said GoDaddy spokeswoman Karen Tillman.

 Google also rescinded their support services for the Daily Stormer, including suspending their YouTube account (which Google owns).  Hacker Andrew "weev" Auernheimer later wrote on his Gab account that the Daily Stormer's Twitter account had been suspended.

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"There are some impersonating accounts made now," Auernheimer warned. "Don't click on any links they give."

The website then reportedly switched to a Russian domain, but was taken down once again after Cloudflare -- a company that protects against hacking and service attacks for 6 million websites -- pulled the site's coverage.  According to Reuters, Cloudflare has a reputation for defending and providing services to controversial websites.

"I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the internet," wrote Cloudflare Chief Executive Matthew Prince in a company email.

"The Cloudflare betrayal adds another layer of super complexity," wrote Andrew Anglin, head publisher of the Daily Stormer, on his Gab account. "But we got this."

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Reuters reports that Anglin was not immediately available for comment.

Ars Technica reports that Anglin and Auernheimer had established the website on Tor, a common browser for "Dark Web" websites.  Tor websites are known for having the domain .onion. 

That website might not be around long either, as an anonymous hacker for the online campaign OpDomesticTerrorism told Ars that they were working to launch a denial-of-service attack on the .onion version of the website.

Other tech companies have ramped up efforts to deny service to neo-Nazis, the KKK and others affiliated with the "Unite the Right" rally and white supremacist ideology.  Quartz has compiled a list of all crackdowns that have occurred thus far.

According to Quartz, Airbnb banned users it believed to be neo-Nazis from booking rooms in Charlottesville in the days leading up to the rally.  After the rally had passed, chat website Discord pulled service for the website

Wordpress shut down Vanguard America after the Anti-Defamation League described the website as a "white supremacist group that opposes multiculturalism and believes that America is an exclusively white nation."

On Aug. 16, Billboard posted that Spotify had removed several bands from its website after a blog post titled "I Just Found 37 White Supremacist Hate Bands on Spotify" was published on Digital Music News two days prior, Quartz reports.

Among others, Quartz reports that Uber, Apple, PayPal and GoFundMe have also removed services from companies and individuals promoting white supremacist beliefs.

Sources: USA Today, Reuters, Ars Technica, Quartz / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr (2)

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