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GoDaddy, Google ban neo-Nazi site for disparaging Charlottesville victim

By KATIE METTLER | The Washington Post | Published: August 14, 2017

An infamous neo-Nazi website has been evicted from its home on the Internet after a violent white nationalist rally drew fresh attention to hate speech in the United States.

The web hosting company GoDaddy, which has been criticized for months for hosting the Daily Stormer, announced late Sunday that "they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service."

Sure enough, the Daily Stormer's front page was shortly replaced with a drawing of a dead whale and an error message: "We're having an outage."

The site was back online Monday afternoon, with a triumphant post blaming hackers for "a brief disruption."

Hackers or not, the Stormer also had a new Web host - Google, which promptly announced that it, too, would be kicking the neo-Nazis out.

"We are cancelling Daily Stormer's registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," a spokesman for the company told The Washington Post on Monday.

The Stormer's eviction troubles began over the weekend, with a post by founder Andrew Anglin, which disparaged a protester who was killed Saturday in Charlottesville after someone plowed into a crowd with a car.

The protester, Heather Heyer, was among the hundreds who had turned out to protest the rally being held by white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members. The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and another count related to the hit-and-run, police said.

In the Daily Stormer post, Anglin characterized Heyer as dying in a "road age incident." He said she was a "drain on society" and disparaged her appearance. "Most people are glad she is dead," he wrote.

Outrage quickly followed.

"@GoDaddy you host The Daily Stormer," Twitter user Amy Siskind wrote in an appeal to the Web hosting company. "Please retweet if you think this hate should be taken down & banned."

Siskind's post was shared more than 5,000 times.

GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race confirmed the company's decision to boot the Daily Stormer in an email to The Washington Post. He said the article about Heyer violated GoDaddy's terms of service, Race said.

"Given The Daily Stormer's latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service," Race wrote in the email.

Early Monday, just hours after GoDaddy made its announcement, a note appeared on the Daily's Stormer's website claiming it had been taken over by the hacking activist group Anonymous "in the name of Heather Heyer a victim of white supremacist terrorism."

But a Twitter account claiming to be linked to Anonymous said it could not confirm that the Daily Stormer was hacked. "Remain cautious," it advised.

The site moved from GoDaddy to Google on Monday morning, according to Reuters.

While the former company withstood months of criticism before kicking out the Daily Stormer, Google announced it would follow suit within hours.

"We don't want our services to incite violence," someone familiar with Google's decision told Reuters.

As of late Monday afternoon, however, the Stormer remained online and on Google.

The Daily Stormer and other websites characterized as espousing racist or anti-Semitic views have registered domain names with GoDaddy and use a privacy service called Domains by Proxy that is affiliated with GoDaddy, the Daily Beast reported last month.

Critics have pushed GoDaddy to ban these sites from its service, arguing that providing them a platform enables hate speech.

GoDaddy has previously said that the content, however "tasteless" and "ignorant," is protected by the First Amendment. The company told the Daily Beast in July that a Daily Stormer article threatening to "track down" the family members of CNN staffers did not violate Domains by Proxy's terms of service.

"We do not see a reason to take any action under our terms of service as does not promote or encourage violence against people," Ben Butler, GoDaddy's director of network abuse, told The Daily Beast. "While we detest the sentiment of this site and the article in question, we support First Amendment rights and, similar to the principles of free speech, that sometimes means allowing such tasteless, ignorant content."

The Daily Stormer has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the "top hate site in America," and publishes content disparaging Jewish people, people of color, Muslims and women.

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