Free speech was the left’s rally cry. But the fate of the Daily Stormer, a hate site ‘kicked off the internet’, signals the increasing irrelevance of the first amendment
Matthew Prince had the power to kill the white supremacist hate site the Daily Stormer for years, but he didn’t choose to pull the trigger until 16 August. That’s when the chief executive of website security company Cloudflare “woke up … in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet”, as he told his employees in an internal email. Without Cloudflare’s protection, the Daily Stormer was forced to retreat to the darknet, where it is inaccessible to the majority of internet users.
Cloudflare is just one of many internet companies that cleaned house amid a wave of public outrage following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Critics charge that technology platforms have enabled a disparate network of racist extremists to seek one another out, raise funds, and plan and execute such rallies. But unlike consumer facing companies such as Facebook, YouTube, PayPal and Discord, and even as liberal voices – including the Guardian editorial board – applaud it, Cloudflare won’t defend its actions.