The internet is often regarded as a place where hate proliferates. But in the wake of the recent Charlottesville tragedy, and President Trump’s response to it (or lack thereof), the internet has become an arena for vigilante do-gooders, keen to rectify the ills of the hateful, prejudiced and downright ignorant.
First up is The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website, which found itself booted off its domain provider, GoDaddy. The company responded to tweets from The New Agenda president and co-founder Amy Siskind, who called GoDaddy out for hosting the The Daily Stormer, writing: “you host The Daily Stormer – they posted this on their site. Please retweet if you think this hate should be taken down and banned.”
Siskind was referring to a Daily Stormer article by Andrew Anglin, the site’s founder covering the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, legal assistant and civil rights activist, who was killed when a car rammed into protestors at the white supremacist rally on Saturday. The article’s headline – “Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut” – has been understandably condemned as morally reprehensible, and the perpetrators were duly held to account as GoDaddy announced, “We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another providers, as they have violated our terms of service.”
Ostracisation was taken one step further by a host of Twitter users – shoutout to @YesYoureRacist – who have been publishing photos of protesters who attended the Charlottesville rallies, and seeking the public’s help in identifying them.
Successfully identified participants are gleefully named and shamed, and tweets have been embellished with triumphant sign offs, including #GoodNightAltRight and #ExposeTheAltRight.
“This little pr*** from Eagle Rock, VA was also in Charlottesville yesterday and thinks he’s a tough guy,” gives a pretty succinct flavour of the vigilante account’s output.
Meanwhile, Twitter users were keen to bring threats inciting violence to the attention of public officials, tagging Terry McAuliffe, the Governor of Virginia, in addition to federal agencies like the FBI, in threatening tweets. And the public naming and shaming doesn’t look set to cease any time soon, as it doesn’t clash with Twitter’s policies; whilst publishing private information such as a home phone number, home address or social security number would count as a breach, simply identifying a person by name from a publicly available photo does not.
Resistance isn’t confined to well-meaning members of the public either – Anonymous has *ostensibly* got involved once more. The hacking group appears to have taken over The Daily Stormer’s website, professing to rid the site of “putrid hate”. However, given the nebulous nature of Anonymous, which comprises a globally-based, loosely-affiliated network of hackers with often dubious results, the legitimacy of the group’s takeover it yet to be confirmed. Rumours are also circulating as to whether The Daily Stormer performed the takeover as a hoax in order to cultivate anti-semitic conspiracy theories, given that the site was about to become obsolete anyway.
The Charlottesville rally has come at a time of national tension for the US, galvanised by the election of President Trump back in November 2016. President Trump received the support of myriad hate groups, including the personal support of Andrew Anglin himself. His failure to wholly condemn the role played by white supremacists in the weekend’s fatal rally has garnered widespread criticism, including by his own party.