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Big Tech’s Blackballing of Neo-Nazi Sites Shows Who Controls the Internet

This week on Radio Motherboard, we talk about whether corporations should decide who gets to stay online.

by Louise Matsakis
Aug 29 2017, 12:00pm

Image: Shutterstock

In the wake of a violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, a long list of tech companies scrambled to scrub racist content from their platforms. Several, including Cloudflare, Google, and GoDaddy rushed to distance themselves from the Daily Stormer, one of the most prominent neo-Nazi websites on the internet.

Their efforts appear to have had significant impact: The Daily Stormer is still struggling to maintain a presence on the surface web (it has a dark web version, though it faced a DDoS attack earlier this month). Following public pressure, Stormfront, another racial hate site, is now also offline. The KKK relied on Stormfront's forums and email server to plan its annual "Great Smoky Mountain Summit," which was supposed to take place next month. Now, the hate group is struggling to organize, all because a relatively unknown tech company—Network Solutions—chose to stop letting Stormfront use its domain hosting service.

While it's a good thing that Nazis are being booted offline, should it be at the whim of tech companies, instead of say, democratically elected regulators? That's the question we asked on this episode of Radio Motherboard: How much control should a few powerful internet companies have over user content?