By Jessica Shulberg
The HuffPost (8/18/17)
WASHINGTON ― The Daily Stormer, a website started by a neo-Nazi, has promoted racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic content since it was founded in 2013. But this week, after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, several tech companies effectively kicked the site off the internet.
Some of the companies that stopped doing business with The Daily Stormer argued that the website violated their terms of service by inciting violence, which major internet companies prohibit.
But a CEO at of one of those firms sent an email to staffers on Wednesday that frankly acknowledged what other tech companies have refused to admit publicly: The interpretation of terms of service is often subjective, giving internet infrastructure companies the power to effectively shut down their customers’ websites whenever they feel like it. That leaves any group’s ability to keep operating its website subject to the arbitrary whims of private firms.
“Any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others.”
“I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet,” Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, wrote of his company’s decision to stop offering The Daily Stormer protection from distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks from hackers. Prince acknowledged that his decision could set a dangerous precedent. “No one should have that power,” he told staffers.
Your group or cause could be next
Private companies should not take it upon themselves to decide what content deserves to be on the internet, free speech advocates argue. “On the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, wrote in a statement.
If tech companies’ actions against The Daily Stormer serve as a precedent, the same companies could be pressured into censoring groups like Black Lives Matter, EFF noted.
The debate over how private companies should police hate speech and abuse online typically centers around social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where it is not uncommon for users to have their accounts terminated for posting violent or obscene content. Twitter took down accounts associated with The Daily Stormer, AirBnB suspended accounts of rally attendees, OkCupid banned white supremacist Chris Cantwell for life “within 10 minutes,” and GoFundMe took down crowdfunding efforts for the man accused of hitting anti-Nazi protesters with his car, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 other people.
But taking down an entire website has a more silencing effect than restricting access to a social media or sharing economy platform. …
It’s Official: Google & Facebook Are Straight Out Of Orwell’s 1984
“Nobody wants to live in the world they are creating.”
Officially approved news, pre-selected history, predictive policing, augmented humanity, black box social engineering, established model officially approved healthcare, spoon feeding of what you are to know, think and believe.
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )