Google stripped a neo-Nazi website of its domain the same day it was registered, after it was booted previously by another domain-name server.
The Daily Stormer, which describes itself as “the World’s Most Genocidal Republican Website,” had registered with Google shortly after being ousted by GoDaddy.
“We are canceling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service,” a spokesperson for Google told Yahoo News via email. As of Monday afternoon, the site was still live.
The Daily Stormer, which played a prominent role in organizing the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., had published an article mocking Heather Heyer, 32, on Sunday — a day after she died when a car drove into a crowd of counter-demonstrators protesting against the march.
Amy Suskind, the founder of the New Agenda, a women’s advocacy group, tweeted a screenshot of the insulting headline, calling on GoDaddy to take down and ban the Daily Stormer.
We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) August 14, 2017
GoDaddy did not respond to requests for comment from Yahoo News.
This raises the question: What responsibility do web-hosting platforms have to monitor and stop hate groups from using their services to spread propaganda and recruit?
Keegan Hankes, an analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said companies need to spend serious time thinking about who is allowed to use their platforms, especially as it pertains to organized hate groups.
“The organizing of these groups and events are taking place on sites that they’re hosting. They need to decide if they’re going to be party to this type of activity,” Hankes told Yahoo News. “They have the power to decide. They set their terms of service. No one does that for them.”
The fact that GoDaddy cited its terms of service as grounds to unplug the Daily Stormer, he said, cuts to the heart of this entire issue. He said a recurring problem with tech companies is that they fail to enforce the terms of service clauses that are intended to ban harassment, racism and calls to violence.
Google’s current user content and conduct policy has a section on hate speech. It says that Google’s products are platforms for free expression but that the company does not condone content that promotes violence against individuals or groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This can be a delicate balancing act, but if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line,” Google’s policy reads.
Google was still listed as the Daily Stormer’s registrar in online records on Monday afternoon.
Although the Daily Stormer’s domain name was registered with GoDaddy and Google, albeit briefly, its content is hosted by Cloudflare, a U.S. company that provides a content delivery network and internet security services.
The domain is no longer at GoDaddy & we don’t host the site. We recommend contacting their hosting provider (Cloudflare) and law enforcement
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) August 14, 2017
Cloudflare did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.
Name servers create directories of simple domain names that can be easily translated into IP addresses so people don’t need to memorize complex numbers to visit websites. It’s difficult to quantify just how many name servers exist because of their sheer abundance. Some savvy computer wizzes even set up name servers for themselves.
According to the SPLC, the Daily Stormer is dedicated to promoting anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and white nationalism with hyperbole and “epithet-laden stories” dealing with “alleged Jewish world control and black-on-white crime.”
Hankes said the Daily Stormer is the preeminent site on the far right, succeeding Stormfront as the most read alt-right site online.
“You can see that on display in Charlottesville. The Daily Stormer, numerous of its writers and leadership played a serious role in coordinating and recruiting people to Charlottesville,” he said.
On Monday morning, the Daily Stormer published an article claiming that the activist hacker collective Anonymous had taken control of their website and would shut it down in 24 hours. But one of Anonymous’ largest Twitter accounts denied that the group had attacked Daily Stormer, saying the claim was most likely a hoax, since GoDaddy was booting the Daily Stormer in 24 hours anyway.
If goal of Daily Stormer was to get us to celebrate a BS claim, it backfired. Seriously, suck less.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 14, 2017
Shortly after, the founder of the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, published another article claiming to have taken control of the site back from Anonymous.
Although it has been in existence only since 2013, SPLC notes, Daily Stormer has generated a “disproportionate amount of attention” and is stylized after image-heavy internet forums like 4chan.
The so-called alt-right, which critics say is merely a rebranding of white supremacism and neo-Nazism, is not alone in using the internet to recruit disaffected young men. Jihadist groups like ISIS are noted for their use of social media.
“Make no mistake, Andrew Anglin has called for genocide on the site before. His anti-Semitism and racism are not muted at all. They are central to his propaganda style,” Hankes said. “This is an individual who does not want to moderate the message at all. He would refer to that as ‘content cucking.’ It’s a version of shock tactics.”
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested and is being held in a Virginia jail. He is accused of driving into the crowd, killing Heyer and wounding at least 19 others, authorities said.