Saturday, May 05, 2018

"Alt-Right" domain banned by Godaddy as tech companies become more wary of "hate" content (not necessarily because of FOSTA)

Tech companies, recall, have started pulling a few extremist sites or accounts (especially from the alt-Right) off the Internet.  Remember Daily Stormer was taken down by Cloudflare and others in August.  Now Buzzfeed and the Verge and others reported May 4 that GoDaddy had pulled “Alt-Right” from domain registration and apparently from actual hosting. 

Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute remains online.  There is another forum site called StormFront which is still online (although it has had issues, as the Verge explains in an earlier detailed article.) 

Spencer has had trouble getting representation and keeping donation nodes up, also, according to Buzzfeed.

Last December, Twitter said it would “Purge” members that it found associated with certain extremist organizations, even if not misbehaving on Twitter.  Some alt-right accounts were purged.

Tech companies so far say they are acting only when a site advocates or tries to organize actual violence.

But these incidents show that even web hosting companies are capable of monitoring some content for grossly illegal or objectionable material, such as child pornography, drug trafficking (online pharmacies), terrorist recruiting and apparently can do some watching for sex-trafficking in view of the recent passage of FOSRA/SESTA.  All of these companies outline impressible content in their AUP’s. It's important to remember that in the U.S. companies are not legally required to shut down hate speech (they are in the EU and UK) and for now are still protected by Section 230, although the companies are probably bracing themselves for that to change and believe they have to adhere to international norms of morality. 
I am not defending the alt-right.  But it is troubling to try to say who can organize and who can’t.
Furthermore, the meaning of “hate speech” often is in the eye of the beholder.  For some people, meta-speech about an oppressed group from someone not belonging to the group is hate speech.  The appropriateness of speech could depend on the identity and circumstances of the speaker (my own substitute teaching incident, described here July 27, 2007).  We could be headed toward a social code regarding speech more like China’s (with its social credit score idea).

The banning of one of Specer’s sites was reported May 5 on CNN by the special “The Dark Side of the Internet’ which I will review soon on the TV blog.

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