One of the worst moments in the aftermath of last weekend’s horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia came on Sunday morning. Daily Stormer, one of the most–if not the most–rabidly neo-Nazi sites on the Internet, got the bright idea to trash Heather Heyer, the woman who died when a white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Daily Stormer claimed that we shouldn’t shed any tears for Heyer because she was “an overweight slob” who had failed to fulfill her duty to have children. In the Daily Stormer’s eyes, Heyer compounded that transgression by actively pushing an “anti-White agenda.”
Since last weekend’s carnage, a number of Daily Stormer’s followers have learned the hard way that hate and bigotry have their costs. Well, add Daily Stormer itself to that list. Its longtime domain provider told site founder Andrew Anglin to take his business elsewhere.
Daily Stormer was one of many racist, white supremacist, and white nationalist Websites that registered its domain with GoDaddy and used GoDaddy’s domain privacy service, Domains by Proxy. Despite criticism that it thus gives succor to hate, GoDaddy has been loath to pull the plug on these sites. Last month, GoDaddy’s network abuse chief, Ben Butler, told The Daily Beast that GoDaddy strongly supports First Amendment rights–and those rights include allowing “tasteless, ignorant content” like what Anglin frequently churned out.
But it looks like Anglin’s disgraceful trashing and fat-shaming of Heyer went too far even for GoDaddy. It didn’t come without some prodding, though. Amid a firestorm of outrage at Daily Stormer’s shameful attack on Heyer and her family, feminist activist Amy Siskind essentially asked GoDaddy, “What the hell is going on here?”
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) August 14, 2017
Within two hours–almost no time at all in Internet terms–GoDaddy announced it had ended its relationship with Daily Stormer.
We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) August 14, 2017
In a statement, GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race said that the attack on Heyer was blatantly incendiary, especially considering that it came on the heels of “a violent act.” Ultimately, concerns that the article could “incite additional violence” led GoDaddy to conclude that it was an egregious violation of the GoDaddy terms of service. Specifically, it looks like Anglin’s trashing of Heyer violated the clause in the TOS that forbids the use of GoDaddy services in a way that “promotes, encourages or engages in terrorism, violence against people, animals, or property.”
It initially appeared that within hours of GoDaddy evicting Daily Stormer, hackers aligned with Anonymous took over the site in Heyer’s name. However, it doesn’t appear likely that Anonymous actually pulled this off. For one thing, the message purportedly coming from Anonymous warned that it would leave Daily Stormer online for 24 hours before “permanently” shutting it down–a time frame that matched GoDaddy’s ultimatum.
Sometime around 8 a.m. Pacific, Daily Stormer moved its registration to Google Domains via an automated process that usually takes no more than 20 minutes. But less than three hours later–again, almost no time at all in Internet terms–Google Domains gave Anglin the boot as well. A Google Domains source told Reuters that the quick rejection came because “we don’t want our services to incite violence.” A Google Domains spokesperson subsequently confirmed to NPR that Daily Stormer had been bounced for terms of service violations.
Soon after that, Daily Stormer’s email provider, Zoho, also canceled its contract.
In response to inquiries regarding The Daily Stormer's use of Zoho services (1/2)
— Zoho (@zoho) August 14, 2017
We believe that The Daily Stormer has violated Zoho’s Terms of Service, so its access to Zoho’s services has been terminated. (2/2)
— Zoho (@zoho) August 14, 2017
Since then, Daily Stormer has suffered intermittent outages. Despite this, Anglin vowed that “it’s going to take bullets to stop us.” It may take something more simple than that. There aren’t very many domain registrars who are desperate enough, or disreputable enough, to go anywhere near Daily Stormer.
There are, however, at least two companies still willing to do business with Anglin. Cloudflare, Daily Stormer’s security provider, still seems to be fending off potential DDoS attacks on Daily Stormer as of Monday night. In a statement, Cloudflare said that even if it tore up its contract with Daily Stormer, it would merely make the site “slower and more vulnerable to attack.” Cloudflare also serves as the proxy for Daily Stormer’s actual Web host, and also protects that host’s identity.
That being said, though, it’s long past time that Internet companies actually enforced their terms of service and snuffed out these hate sites. Had they done so sooner, it’s very likely that the driver in the car attack, James Fields, wouldn’t have had his head turned by neo-Nazi nonsense. It shouldn’t have taken an innocent woman being killed and 19 people being injured to make companies like GoDaddy wake up. Better late than never, though. At least now we know that Heather Heyer didn’t die in vain.
(featured image courtesy Daily Stormer)