How companies like Google and Facebook are standing up to neo-Nazis and other hate groups

A makeshift memorial of flowers and a photo of the victim of the car attack is on display at the attack site in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.
Steve Helber | AP Photo

In the wake of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, which left an activist dead and many injured, some leading tech companies are taking a stand against extremist views.

Last week Friday, right-wing blogger Jason Kessler organized a rally to protest Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.

The rally ended in violence as supporters and counter-protesters chanted and threw punches and newspaper stands, according to the Associated Press.

In the midst of the weekend brawl, female activist Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally. Far right websites have since come out supporting this act of domestic terrorism.

Here's how GoDaddy, Google, Paypal, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook have responded:


The domain name provider severed ties with the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer after the site verbally attacked Heyer. A recent post from the site mocked the deceased 32-year-old, calling her "fat" and "childless." It added that "most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness."

GoDaddy tweeted on Sunday that it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain because the site had violated the company's terms of service.


In an interview with CNBC, the company's CEO Blake Irving said that the Daily Stormer crossed the line from exercising freedom of speech to provoking further mayhem.

"We always have to ride the fence on making sure we are protecting a free and open internet," says Irving. "But when the line gets crossed and that speech starts to incite violence, then we have a responsibility to take that down."


The Daily Stormer moved its domain registration to Google after hosting firm GoDaddy cut ties with the site.

Customers can transfer domains to Google through an automated, online process that takes up to 20 minutes, according to the Internet company's domain registration site.

But shortly after making the transition, Google promptly canceled the registration for the white supremacist website.

"We are cancelling Daily Stormer's registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company representative said in a statement to CNBC.

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images

In June, the company released a blog post in which it denounced the use of Google platforms for terrorist activity. "There should be no place for terrorist content on our service," said Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel of Google.

He added: "While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now."


The online payment platform vowed to pull its services from sites linked to hate, violence and intolerance, after reflecting on the tragic events in Charlottesville.

Paypal had previously been accused of playing a prominent role in raising money for the deadly white supremacist rally.

"We've been working directly with PayPal for months to cut off a number of hate groups that they allowed for years to generate revenue using their platform," says Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, in a statement to CNBC.

Source: CNBC

In a lengthy post published on Tuesday, PayPal says that it has a longstanding acceptable use policy and that the company strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and the closing of sites that advocate intolerant views.

"Regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance," said the post.

"This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups."


The social news aggregation site confirmed to CNET that it will ban pages and groups linked to far-right extremists.

Reddit's action was reportedly prompted by a subreddit, which was flagged for making inflammatory remarks and threats. The thread included calls for a return to segregation and expressed hopes that someone would "bomb CNN and kill people."


Reddit users quickly called on the website to take steps in combating the hate speech.

"We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence will get users banned from Reddit," a company spokesperson told CNET.


The social networking service joined other Silicon Valley companies on Wednesday in suspending accounts linked to the Daily Stormer.

A man holds a laptop showing an image of US president Donald Trump with a Twitter logo displayed in the background in this photo illustration.
Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

At least three accounts that were associated with the neo-Nazi website led to pages saying "account suspended," according to Reuters.

Although Twitter did not discuss individual accounts, the company released a statement saying that the social network will take action on accounts that violate its policies prohibiting violent threats, harassment and hateful conduct.


The social media platform, which has doubled down on its war against fake news, confirmed to CNET that it has removed and banned group pages that violated hate speech policies.

Facebook also confirmed that it had removed the Charlottesville Unite the Right event page and was currently removing all links to the aforementioned Daily Stormer post.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Photo by Antoine Antoniol

Facebook Chief Operating Officer in Charlottesville on Monday.

She says: "Along with millions of others, I was so heartbroken this weekend. The brave Heather Heyer's mother Susan Bro said she wanted her daughter's 'death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion. Let's honor her by teaching all of our children how to honor and respect those values."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

See also: