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Technology companies move to 'kick neo-Nazis off the internet'

Deadly neo-Nazi marches took place in Charlottesville over the weekend [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 17 August, 2017

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Silicon Valley's tech companies and social media networks are stepping up efforts to curb hate speech and incitements to violence posted on their platforms in wake of the Charlottesville clashes.

Silicon Valley companies and social media networks have stepped up efforts to block neo-Nazi content on their platforms amid the rise of organised hate crimes and the weekend of violence in Charlottesville.

Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, along with Spotify Ltd and GoDaddy Inc were among the companies cutting off services to hate groups or removing provocative hate-fuelled material.

Despite being known for defending even the most politically incorrect and distasteful online platforms, Cloudflare, which protects around 6 million websites from denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and hacking, dropped coverage of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer on Wednesday afternoon.

"I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the internet," Cloudflare founder and Chief Executive Matthew Prince wrote in an email to employees.

"The Daily Stormer site was bragging on their bulletin boards about how Cloudflare was one of them and that is the opposite of everything we believe. That was the tipping point for me."

The Daily Stormer helped organise the deadly rally in Charlottesville which took place over the weekend.

Its publisher Andrew Anglin said on a social network used by many of his supporters, Gab, that his site would be back soon.

"The Cloudflare betrayal adds another layer of super complexity. But we got this," he said.

Tech companies have previously taken down violent propaganda from Islamic State and other militant groups, in part in response to government pressure. But most internet companies have traditionally tried to steer clear of making judgments about content.

White supremacists clashed with anti-racism protesters at a "Unite the Right" rally in Virginia on Saturday, which included members of the Ku Klux Klan and a host of white supremacist ideologues, such as Richard Spencer.

The gathering marked one of the most significant demonstrations of its kind in decades, and resulted in the death of anti-racism activist Heather Heyer.

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