One rule for them, another for you..?

Over the weekend there were some disgusting events in Charlottesville USA, others will and have written about those events far better than I ever could.

From a tech point of view there was a bit of interesting fallout.

The web hosting company GoDaddy, which has been criticized for months for hosting the Daily Stormer, announced late Sunday that “they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.”

So GoDaddy, having been pressured for months to stop hosting the site Daily Stormer, The Daily Stormer is an American neo-Nazi and white supremacist news and commentary website. It considers itself a part of the alt-right movement.

After months of ongoing pressure following the events of this weekend however it got to unattainable that any form of continuation of service was going to be present moving forward.

On trying to move the hosting of the site to Google that was quickly shut down by Google as well as a never going to happen..

While this might seem in the face of it a little too late on GoDaddy’s part and probably more to do with PR than this weekends events. GoDaddy have hosted the site for over 4 years…

On Monday, video game chat application Discord announced that it was shutting down a server and several accounts “associated with the events in Charlottesville”, including the AltRight server, which was affiliated with prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer and his website.

An interesting move considering Discord a relative new player in the teach world has according to the press been very strong in assisting far right groups communicate.

“Discord has had a monopoly on communication between members of the far right hate groups for the past six months if not more,” said Keegan Hankes, an intelligence analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Almost every leader in this movement has an account there. So much of the coordination and collaboration of Charlottesville took place on Discord.”

There were examples of tech companies being proactive pre Charlottesville as Airbnb barred people from using its service to book rooms in order to attend the rally. Payment processing platforms such as PayPal and Patreon have banned a number of far right figures from using their platforms to raise money.

It won’t do much to stop these groups as they have the backing to start thier own sites.

These are interesting examples of how different tech companies handle such things as free speech, your right to express opinion and to a greater extent cyber bullying. It’s a veritable mix of actually caring and minimising bad PR.

This follows from a week where James Damore was fired by Google following an internal memo where he expressed his opinion over Google’s HR policy being driven more by race and gender than knowledge and ability.

Agree or disagree with the memo the message Google sent out by firing James Damore is essentially, don’t have an opinion, don’t discuss it unless it’s the party line..

A very familiar stance right now in society at large where having a difference of opinion ensures you will be ridiculed, shut down and generally made a pariah.

In fact had the events in Charlottesville not taken the ugly turn they did, there is still an argument that the far right supporters have just as much right to thier opinion no matter how far removed you feel it is from your own.

So at what point does having an opinion which differs from the mainstream become an issue? Out quite simply at the point it becomes less about opinion and more about threat.

Most if not all the sites and services you use daily will have something in thier terms of usage which cover threats..

Twitter’s is a good example

https://support.twitter.com/articles/20175050

Freedom of expression means little if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. We do not tolerate behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice. If you see something on Twitter that violates these rules, please report it to us.
How our policy works
As explained in the Twitter Rules,
Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.
Examples of what we do not tolerate includes, but is not limited to behavior that harasses individuals or groups of people with:
violent threats;
wishes for the physical harm, death, or disease of individuals or groups;
references to mass murder, violent events, or specific means of violence in which/with which such groups have been the primary targets or victims;
behavior that incites fear about a protected group;
repeated and/or or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone.

This page then goes on to explain how twitter enforces it’s policies..

However I’d suggest much like GoDaddy, for Twitter this is more about PR considering current US events

Take this tweet

Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!
12:29 PM - Aug 11, 2017

So that right there is Donald Trump threatening North Korea with nuclear war via tweet. That’s a thing that happened in the real world.

We have seen twitter’s Terms

references to mass murder, violent events, or specific means of violence in which/with which such groups have been the primary targets or victims;

And this is not an isolated event, however there is no way on this planet Twitter will block the US Presidents account.

So do thier terms mean anything? Is this just about PR?

Or are these companies ok blocking the little guy, however when it comes to freedom of speech and access to the press and media it’s just too much to be seen taking a stand?

One rule for them, another for us..

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