The Daily Stormer Forced Underground
Founded in 2013, by Andrew Anglin, the website promotes everything that would make an average American cringe. From anti-LGBT to anti-blacks, from white supremacy to creating a troll army, the site played a crucial part in inciting violence. In fact, it helped organize the, ‘Unite the Right,’ rally on August 11th in Charlottesville, Virginia which became a bloody affair when a vehicle rammed into the protesting crowd causing the death of Heather and left 19 others critically injured. This should have been a wake-up call for extremist groups to re-evaluate their actions, but little did this tragedy affect them. The next day, a misleading article, mocking and harassing Heather circulated social media and the Internet. The article received thousands of neo-Nazi supporters with former KKK Klan leader David Duke saying he was, ‘glad,’ a woman died during the protest.
Following the article, GoDaddy removed the website from their domain after giving them a 24-hour notice. It should be noted that tech companies in the US are very specific about the thin line between censorship and free speech. Although the site was distasteful and propagated hate, it was the allowance of freedom of expression that let it thrive. This time, however, the site went beyond the line of free-speech with its deliberate mockery of a tragic death and its cheer for neo-Nazi movements.
In an interview with CBC, GoDaddy Blake Irving explained the complicated situation, saying, ‘We always have to ride the fence on making sure we are protecting a free and open internet. And regardless of whether speech is hateful, bigoted, racist, ignorant, tasteless, in many cases, we will still keep that content up because we don’t want to be a censor and First Amendment rights matter not just in speech but on the internet as well.
But when the line gets crossed. And that speech starts to incite violence then we have a responsibility to take that down.”
As soon as GoDaddy removed the site from its domain, Daily Stormer moved to Google, however, within 48 hours, the website was removed from Google’s domain, citing, ‘violating our terms and services,’ as the cause for removal. Soon after, two additional web services DigitalOcean and CloudFlare also ended their business partnership with the website when one of them was called out by Ryan Block on Twitter for providing services to fascist websites. Following the tweet, the company removed the account for DailyStormer and Hatreon, another fascist website. In a comment to TechCrunch, the spokeswoman for DigitalOcean said, ‘“This is a terrible situation, but DigitalOcean believes that tech has a role in preventing hate crimes and violence from spreading, and takes that responsibility seriously.” Similarly, CloudFlare’s CEO wrote a blog post explaining why they removed the website saying, ‘Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by CloudFlare.’
With their online presence completely removed, Daily Stormer has supposedly turned towards the dark web, specifically making use of the TOR network. This means that only people with a strong VPN and a TOR browser will be able to access the website.
Anglin proudly boasts of the site’s shadowed existence, saying, “The Daily Stormer will be live in internet prison with drug dealers, terrorists, and perverts, which is where we’ve been exiled to, for all time. We should have a real domain online within 24 hours. If it gets shut down again, people will know we are on the black web.”