Here's how Silicon Valley is responding to the Charlottesville rally, and Trump's comments on it

  • Apple plans to set up donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center through iTunes and it has started to disable Apple Pay payments to white nationalist websites.
  • Uber banned several riders on their way to white supremacy rallies over the weekend.
  • IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was one of three female executives that initiated a process that dissolved White House business advisory panels, sources told CNBC.

A Virginia rally instigated by white nationalists over the weekend has escalated tensions between President Donald Trump and the business community. Many critics have perceived Trump's responses to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as equivocating the actions of white supremacists with those protesting racism.

The discord in Washington came amid a growing divide between the administration and Silicon Valley, which have clashed over issues like the environment, immigration and LGBTQ rights. Although tech CEOs did not have the same formal ties to business advisory councils at the White House,many spoke out on the issue this week.

Notably, though, some also stayed silent. Amazon declined to comment to CNBC earlier this week, and Trump ally and venture capitalist Peter Thiel has also not responded to requests for comment.

But still, Silicon Valley has overwhelmingly spoken out against both Trump's comments and the racist instigators. Here's what's happened so far:


Apple CEO Tim Cook responded on Twitter as the events unfolded in Charlottesville, writing that "violence and racism have no place in America," and that the events were an "affront to America."

In an internal memo obtained by Recode on Wednesday, Cook announced the company would donate $1 million each to both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, and would also match employee donations until Sept. 30.

"Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations," Cook reportedly wrote.

Apple also plans to set up donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center through iTunes, the memo said, and the tech giant has started to disable Apple Pay payments to white nationalist websites, the company told BuzzFeed News.


It was not Mark Zuckerberg, but Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, who first responded to the events in Charlottesville. In a Monday Facebook post, Sandberg wrote that she was heartbroken, and called for her followers to teach their children values like equality and compassion.

Zuckerberg shared more details on Wednesday, writing that he had a hard time processing the events of the past few days.

"I know a lot of us have been asking where this hate comes from. As a Jew, it's something I've wondered much of my life," Zuckerberg wrote. "It's a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious. My thoughts are with the victims of hate around the world, and everyone who has the courage to stand up to it every day."

Facebook is actively monitoring for threatening posts celebrating terrorism after the rally in Charlottesville, Zuckerberg said. The company is perfecting a system for taking the posts down as soon as possible.


IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was one of three female executives that initiated a process that dissolved White House business advisory panels, sources told CNBC.

In an internal memo obtained by CNBC on Wednesday, Rometty wrote: "The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance. ... And we have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President's Forum earlier this year. But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed."


Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was one of the first major technology CEOs to defect from White House advisory panels after the events in Charlottesville. On Monday, Krzanich wrote, "I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does."


Then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had already made his disagreements with President Trump known earlier this year, when he stepped down from a White House council over the administration's immigration proposals.

Uber banned several riders on their way to white supremacy rallies over the weekend, telling BuzzFeed News that the event was "deeply disturbing and tragic."

In a letter to drivers obtained by The New York Times on Thursday, the company said it would continue to uphold the policy of banning people from the app for discrimination, and that Uber's app would have around-the-clock support.

Google (and Dreamhost, GoDaddy, and Cloudflare)

Google was one of the several companies to cancel the registration of a Nazi website called Daily Stormer this week.

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

"The recent events in Charlottesville shocked all of us," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a statement on social media. "There is simply no place for this type of extremism in America. As a company, we stand united in condemnation."

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving also told CNBC that the company nixed the Daily Stormer, saying the site "went too far."

"We always have to ride the fence on top of making sure that 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," Irving said. "But when a line gets crossed and that speech starts to incite violence, then we have a responsibility to take that down."

Cloudflare was another hosting service that ended up with the Daily Stormer domain. CEO Matthew Prince wrote an email to employees on Wednesday saying, "I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the internet," according to Reuters.

DreamHost, on the other hand, faced a different issue this week: The Department of Justice sent DreamHost a search warrant for data that contain IP addresses and email addresses of people who have visited the website, the activist group that protested Trump's inauguration. DreamHost said it would not comply.


Corning CEO Wendell Weeks also stepped down from a Trump council Wednesday afternoon, citing adherence to the values of the company, which supplies parts to companies like Apple.

"[T]he events of the last few days have transformed the council's laudable mission of job creation into a perception of political support for the Administration and its statements. This runs counter to my original intention and is inconsistent with Corning's Values. As a result I have made the decision to step down from the council," Weeks said in a statement to CNBC.

Airbnb and PayPal

PayPal has been working with online racial justice organization Color of Change to cut off funding for hate groups. Ahead of the rally, Airbnb barred housing rentals to people it believed were traveling to participate.

"Prejudice, however, does not always march in the street," PayPal Senior Vice President Franz Paasche wrote in a statement. "Intolerance can take on a range of on-line and off-line forms, across a wide array of content and language. It is with this backdrop that PayPal strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and open dialogue — and the limiting and closing of sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance."

Reddit and Twitter

Both sites are also reportedly suspending accounts and content that incite violence. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted former Vice President Joe Biden, who wrote "There is only one side," as well as former President Barack Obama, whose tweet, featuring a Nelson Mandela quote and picture, became the most popular tweet ever.


"The country needed uniting words, words that would bring the country together around what happened this weekend," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told CNBC on Thursday. "And I don't think we got those words ... from him. And I think that's what we need to focus on."

— The Associated Press and CNBC's Patti Domm, Dominic Chu, Jordan Novet and Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

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