Tech Companies Stamp Out Neo-Nazis After Charlottesville

August 17, 2017 - 3 minutes read

The events this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, shocked the nation, and Trump’s equivocating response threw salt in the wound. For many years now, the trend of political polarization has made common ground harder and harder to find, but it used to be that denouncing Nazis was as American as hot dogs, sparklers, and apple pie. One of the president’s most sacred tasks is to help start the healing after a national tragedy. Instead, Trump gave the kind of response that the white supremacists that stormed Charlottesville (many of them ardent Trump supporters) could read almost as an endorsement. To say that it has left a bad taste in the mouths of the app developer community would be an understatement.

For real leadership in the aftermath of Charlottesville, app developers can look to the tech world. Airbnb did its best to discourage hate groups from entering the lovely city in Virginia by refusing to host the white nationalist protesters. Now companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are doing their best to combat the hate that these vile groups spread on the internet. One neo-Nazi website in particular, the Daily Stormer, is being stamped out by the tech community. Trouble for the website and its neo-Nazi “Troll Army” started when GoDaddy and then Google stopped hosting its domain name. Now the site is nowhere to be found. Twitter has suspended the Daily Stormer’s account for violating its rules prohibiting “violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse.” Facebook, locked into a war against fake news, has stopped the spread of a noxious story about Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed on Saturday.

The actions of Airbnb, GoDaddy, Google, Twitter, and Facebook come at a time when tech companies are really striving to show moral leadership. Part of what makes this weekend’s events so disturbing to the tech world is that these groups spread and thrive on social media; it was a disturbing reminder that the troll armies that haunt the internet exist in the real world. More than that, they can pick up torches and march and do some real damage. That’s why it is so gratifying for Boston app developers to see these companies stand up to the monsters that met and organized on their platforms: we now seem to be addressing the problem at its root.

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