Popular voice chat platform Discord has shut down several servers and accounts associated with the alt-right for violations of the terms of service. The company announced the enforcement action on Twitter, emphasizing that it is “about positivity and inclusivity. Not hate. Not violence.”
Predictably, this was quickly followed by accusations of censorship and political bias, and the near-universal assumption that the accounts in question had been banned for ideological reasons. One could, of course, just as easily claim (as some do with Twitter and Reddit) that by tolerating the accounts for as long as it did, Discord supports the ideologies in question.
The company cleared things up in a statement: “We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neonazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs. They are not welcome on Discord.”
“While we don’t read people’s private servers our Terms of Service explicitly forbid harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence…The public server linked to AltRight.com that violated [the ToS] was shut down along with several other public groups and accounts fostering bad actors on Discord.”
In response to calls for counter-protestors’ Discord servers to be shut down as well, the company invited people to report them (email abuse at discordapp.com with details) and they would be investigated just as altright.com’s was.
Hate speech like that proudly employed by those organizing, participating in and discussing the horrifying events in Charlottesville is unwelcome on many platforms. In fact, discouraging hate speech is an ideological stance common to nearly all internet services, with the marked exception of services created specifically to circumvent that stance.
Different companies’ efforts and success in combating it vary widely, but just today GoDaddy revoked neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer’s hosting and Google kicked it off the domain registry — both for pretty clear ToS violations. Airbnb has been pretty clear about what’s allowed on its platform, as well.
We can certainly expect more actions like this, and for similar reactions as neo-Nazis and their like are removed from services to which they have forfeited their privilege to use. It seems likely this will lead to a pitiful, parallel Internet of Hate as the excommunicated communities coalesce and organize. Sad!