Sunday, July 01, 2018

Web designer and commentator explains "Why I'm Against the Daily Stormer Being Taken Down" in short film

Apparently from Virginia, Anthony Brian Logan, himself an African-American who seems libertarian-to-conservative in his approach to issues (at least here), explains “Why I’m Against 'The Daily Stormer' Being Taken Down”, put up on Aug. 15, 2017, shortly after the Charlottesville riots and violence (14 min).

Logan explains the “slippery slope” of tech companies reacting to individual complaints about hate speech (or possibly worse, like actual threats or incitements to vigilantism) on their platforms.  Logan explains well the difference between domain name registration and actual content hosting, which some people might be able to do on their own. He also notes that your own hosted content normally carries a presumption of more freedom and less supervision or meddling than use of a “free” social media platform. He suggests that a complaint from a specific woman in the LGBT community sparked GoDaddy’s action against Daily Stormer.  But I am under the impression there were many other complaints.  However, he is right in suggesting that a single user “with a green check” and lots of (Twitter) followers might be paid more attention to with a complaint.  Logan uses some photos from other determined activism, such as a removal of a Confederate statue in North Carolina. 

In fact, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving had explained his action against DS, which took some time on a weekend and deliberation within the company, to CNBC here.

It should be noted, that most accounts of the Daily Stormer indicate that its content was very extreme in attacking specific groups. Logan dismisses it as not a "serious website", but it seemed to have a very determined and angry, if hidden, following.  But it seems to be a specific (false) insult over the characterization of a woman killed in Charlottesville (the perpetrator awaits trial for murder in Virginia) that started the snowball.  The site editor, Andrew Anglin, has a very controversial history indeed.  I believe the site was driven underground and the site has been pretty much blackballed from the regular world of hosting and domain names. 
Generally tech companies try to follow what they call “terms of service” and “acceptable use policies”. They may feel pressured in the political climate to interpret their AUP’s more narrowly than in the past, or they may feel tempted in the future to place other limitations on what kinds of users can use their services, because of a quickly growing political change, toward tribalist group-think and identity politics ("intersectionality") on both left and right, that is quite shocking to me.  Activists consider gratuitous speech from those without their own "skin in the game" as an indirect kind of bullying, wanting to see supposedly settled issues not brought up again just for "debate".  For example, a host could decide in the future to host only actual businesses and ban “provocateurship” because suddenly this has become so "socially" risky. 
There is a change in the public apperception of user-generated content, as neglecting real need or oppression and as antithetical to genuine political process, that is quite disturbing (there was some talk of this problem back in 2005 with a campaign finance reform issue but it died down).  There are other threats to UGC, including FOSTA/SESTA undermining Section 230 (there is new litigation to enjoin it), loss of net neutrality (maybe not as important as feared), and opposition to “surveillance capitalism” and the fake news and user-PII-compromise and election meddling scandals, as well as a big copyright fight now in Europe.

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