After the violent protests in Charlottesville, tech companies are rethinking their roles in providing online services for hateful groups. The fight is only beginning, as far-right groups and freedom of speech advocates have argued that tech companies are infringing on their first amendment rights by blocking their access to these services. For now, here are the companies who have taken steps to remove white nationalist and other hate groups from their platforms:
GoDaddy: The web domain name provider cut off the neo-nazi website The Daily Stormer, citing that the website had “crossed the line from exercising freedom of speech to provoking further mayhem.”
Apple Pay: On Wednesday, Apple Pay blocked websites that sell white nationalist merchandise, such as clothing with nazi symbols from using their payment services. A day earlier, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to employees where he said “hate is a cancer” and announced donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
Discord: Members of the “alt-right” movement, whose beliefs are a mix of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and extreme populism, flocked to this group messaging service due to it’s privacy and anonymity; however, after the violence in Charlottesville, the company booted white nationalist groups and users off the app. In the days leading up to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the New York Times reported that some white supremacists used the app to organize transportation to and lodging for the event.
Spotify: The music streaming service removed dozens of white supremacist artists that the Southern Poverty Law Center had identified as hate music.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe condemned the white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Va. led to clashes and at least one death, telling the Nazi marchers that “there is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America… Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot,” he said.
McAuliffe appeared at a press conference in Charlottesville in the aftermath of the bloody confrontations on the street. Earlier in the day, he declared a state of emergency to assist authorities in the city in controlling the situation. Police said that a 32-year-old woman was killed as she was crossing the street and a car was driven into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. The driver of the vehicle has been apprehended and the case is being treated as a criminal homicide, with 19 more injured in the incident. Police have not released the name of the victim or the suspect.
State police also are investigating a helicopter crash that occurred in a wooded area near Charlottesville that occurred just before 5 p.m. ET on Saturday. A spokeswoman confirmed that two people were killed in the crash, but did not verify if the helicopter belonged to the Virginia State Police. Throughout the day, cable news networks played shocking and even chilling images of neo-Nazis and white nationalists marching in the streets of Charlottesville as they were protesting plans to remove a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. They quickly clashed with counter-protesters before police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered them to disburse.
McAuliffe said that he spoke with Trump on Saturday and twice told him that “there has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together. The hatred and the rhetoric that has gone on and it’s intensified over the last couple of months is dividing this great nation.” Trump, too, responded with tweets and a statement calling for unity, and condemning “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
But he faced criticism for not specifically calling out the white supremacists or citing the car crash. Some members of Trump’s own party called on the President to specifically cite the Charlottesville tragedy as a terror attack, or to call out white nationalists.
The University of Mississippi is taking major strides in acknowledging its racist history. The institution, affectionately known as Ole Miss, announced plans on Thursday to recognize pre-Civil War campus buildings that were built by slaves.
According to NBC, in addition to placing plaques on buildings built by slaves, the university will also remove the name of white supremacist James K. Vardaman from a campus building. Vardaman was the governor of Mississippi from 1904 to 1908. “As an educational institution, it is imperative we foster a learning environment and fulfill our mission by pursuing knowledge and understanding,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said in a news release.
Ole Miss famously became embroiled in racial tension and violence in 1962, when James Meredith became the first black student to attend the institution as the result of court-ordered integration. The move is part of an ongoing process on the campus to reconcile with its past, provide historical context, and create a more welcoming environment for a diverse student body.