Tech Giants Take Action Following Charlottesville Rallies
White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK rallied together in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue this past weekend, and clashes between the alt-right and counter-protesters resulted in deadly violence.
The response by President Donald Trump—who has blamed “both sides” for the violence—has caused political unrest in the United States after he initially failed to firmly condemn the hate groups.
President Trump folded his manufacturing advisory council yesterday after many high-profile CEOs resigned from the Strategic and Policy Forum, including IBM’s Ginni Rometty, General Electric’s Jack Welch, and Intel’s Brian Krzanich.
Global leaders in the tech industry haven’t shied away from taking a strong stance against racism and have reacted by shutting down sites, music and other services involved with white supremacy, among other actions.
The following list is a selection of the companies and some of the actions taken in response to the events last weekend.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees in a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News that he disagreed with the US president drawing a moral equivalence between the hate groups and counter protesters. Cook called for employees to stand together for equality and pledged two $1 million donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
Apple also confirmed to BuzzFeed that it had disabled Apple Pay on websites selling alt-right merchandise.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took to his platform on Wednesday to affirm that the company will continue to take down posts that promote or celebrate hate crimes and terrorism, stating “there is no place for hate in our community.”
“With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm. We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe,” said Zuckerberg.
Facebook also told BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz that it had removed eight pages run by white supremacists from the social media platform.
Reddit banned the subreddit r/Physical_Removal after commenters discussed acts of violence and even suggested they murder Liberals, clearly violating the sites terms of service.
“We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence will get users banned from Reddit,” said a spokesperson to CNET.
Spotify took action too, removing hate music by white supremacist from the streaming service. These hate bands were first identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center three years ago.
“We are glad to have been alerted to this content and have already removed many of the bands identified today, whilst urgently reviewing the remainder,” said Spotify in a statement to Billboard.
In the lead up to Saturday, Airbnb shut down the accounts of users linked to white nationalism and canceled bookings tied to the “Unite the Right” rally.
“The violence, racism, and hatred demonstrated by Neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and white supremacists should have no place in this world,” wrote Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in a statement. “Airbnb will continue to stand for acceptance and we will continue to do all we can to enforce our community commitment.”
On Monday, both GoDaddy and Google disabled hosting services for the Daily Stormer, which has also since been dropped by CloudFare who protects sites from denial-of-service attacks. Google also blocked the Daily Stormer’s YouTube account.
The neo-Nazi website published an offensive story about 32-year-old Heather Heyer who was killed in Charlottesville after a white nationalist ran his car into a crowd of counter protesters. The most recent attempt at keeping the website alive was through a Russian hosting service, but it was suspended once again. Hackers have currently taken the website offline.
PayPal assured the public they cut off payment service to both individuals and groups that promote hate.
“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,” the digital payments leader wrote in a statement.