Recent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent as 32-year-old Heather Hayer was killed after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters. The subsequent fallout triggered a debate around the responsibility that tech companies might have for enabling extremist content on their platforms. Apps like Discord already shut down Neo-Nazi servers, and recently both Google and GoDaddy pulled the plug on a widely-known extremist website, The Daily Stormer.
Moving to the Dark Web
The Daily Stormer had used GoDaddy as its domain registrar, but in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy, the company decided to ban the website. The Daily Stormer had allegedly published an article celebrating Heather Hayer’s death, and that was ultimately the reason GoDaddy banned the site. GoDaddy had previously addressed The Daily Stormer’s extremist content. When asked about an article the site had published containing a threat, the company stated:
“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 company gave The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move, and after a plausibly fabricated hack by the hacking collective Anonymous, it chose Google Domains as its new registrar. It was promptly kicked out yet again, and along with it went its YouTube presence. Google did not specify the terms-of-service violation(s) that led to their shutdown.
The Daily Stormer subsequently found the only alternative that would allow it to survive: the deep web. The site’s status page has tweeted a link to its new .onion address. The link was also posted on Gab.ai by Andrew “weev” Auerheimer, a known neo-Nazi troll. Both Andrew and The Daily Stormer’s status page have been banned from Twitter due to the nature of their tweets.
Attempt to Resurface Under a Russian Domain
Shortly after the .onion address was announced, The Daily Stormer resurfaced under a Russian domain name, but soon afterwards both Digital Ocean and Cloudfare terminated the website after being called out on social media. At the time of writing, DailyStormer.ru is inaccessible, although the aforementioned .onion address still points to that domain.
Cloudfare, a DNS provider and proxy service that had previous protected The Daily Stormer from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, swiftly dropped the site as a client. Cloudfare’s founder Matthew Prince blogged about his decision to terminate The Daily Stormer’s account. He stated:
“The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.”
The website also turned to Russian social media website VK, widely known as Russia’s Facebook, after being banned on Facebook and Twitter. Its page does not seem to be doing so well, as it currently sits at 231 followers despite receiving huge media attention.
Indeed, the website has not been making a lot of friends. PayPal and Patreon have reiterated their stance to block payments from organizations that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. A PayPal spokesperson stated:
“This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups.”
Things are not going well for The Daily Stormer, but that is not entirely surprising.