The last couple of weeks have seen a surge of “removals” for white nationalist voices from various platforms, social networks, and hosting sites. Part of this is perceived as special treatment of these voices on places like Twitter, which has now said that it will be changing its feed function to work on an algorithm similar to how Facebook functions. Currently, Twitter just shows you the tweets in the order in which they appear. Facebook, on the other hand, shows people things in their feed on an algorithm that is “intended” to show them things that they prefer. This may or may not work, and as people running Facebook pages may note that it is hard to get people to view your content without paid advertisements. Twitter has been more open, but many people assume that this new function may target certain voices.
While there is not evidence that white nationalists are the reason for the Twitter changes, or that their functional changes are intended to target them, they are putting two and two together since Twitter continues to ban them for abusive behavior. Much of this comes from The Right Stuff crowd who enjoys “trolling” people, which basically consists of digital harassment. This is their idea of political engagement since they think it will get their memes into the mainstream, and, with things like Cuckservative, they were right. Their reach has not been much beyond that, and this abusive behavior has seen popular white nationalist Twitter accounts like Charles Johnson and Andrews Anglin deleted(which led to the silly #FreeAnglin hashtag).
The bigger news is that iTunes has sort of followed the example led by Soundcloud and has taken down the extended reach of The Right Stuff/The Daily Shoah and the Radix Journal Podcast. Recently, Soundcloud dropped the Daily Shoah because of their violent racialism and slurs, forcing them first to Archive.org and then to another place to host their growing line of podcasts. Now, iTunes disrupted the feed, making it impossible to find them through a regular search. This caused a problem in their iTunes feed as their programs like Rebel Yell were mislabeled. Richard Spencer created a video(and podcast that was distributed on iTunes, ironically), discussing how this “new digital censorship” could make them look as though they “simply don’t exist.”
The Daily Shoah saw a more direct type of interference beyond just their iTunes disruption as their famous forums got taken down by the hosting. The forums are often the more exaggerated version of the podcast itself, it is where the fans use all manor of racial slurs and indulge in their self-referential jargon. Here, they began discussing a woman who had been posting pictures of her two daughters with her two adopted black sons. Of course, they immediately began discussing how this put the two girls at risk, that it was “sexually provocative,” and that she was exploiting them. They then went on to harass and insult her on social media, insulting her sons and referring to them with some of the most disgusting racial language you could imagine. She then went on social media and rounded up people who found this behavior appalling and had an email campaign to the hosting service to tell them about the violation of their terms of service, mainly that it was being used to organize racist attacks. After filing all of these complaints, they eventually revoked TRS’s agreement and shut down the forums.
We have had our own relationship with the forums ourselves as we consistently find the website discussed there and often get boosts of traffic when they link to us(and it drives up our place in Google search results significantly.). The forum content was always available through Google search results, something Mike Enoch tried to block yet was not very consistent with. The new forums that they are in the process of creating promises to not be available through Google since they are using some very private, off-shore hosting(it sounds like some shady Bitcoin job). We maintained forum accounts before, and we will on this new one as well. Now they will be using “nginx,” but they are not quite up and ready to go yet.
While we applaud the efforts by every day people to challenge and shut down this racism, there is some potentials here that we are more dubious about. If the voices can be completely shut down to them, our voices could be just as easily, so we need to keep this understanding in mind when developing strategy. What is mainly getting them shut down is their vile racialism, something that is so roundly appalling that most platforms do not want to even take part. Continuing to create a multi-faceted anti-racist movement, that both targets these types of voices and develops anti-racist perspectives in the culture are crucial. If platforms become too responsive then there is potential for censorship on all fronts, so this should be taken serious when thinking about what methods should be used to achieve a “no platform” effect. We stand with many places like Google becoming public utilities that are accountable to the people, both because it protects our voice, and it would actually leave the fascists up to some type of oversight. They may decrease the ability to do simple platform pressure campaigns, but it could open up other avenues for counter organizing.
5 thoughts on “The Shudder Effect: iTunes, Twitter, and Web Hosting Drop White Nationalists”
The danger of employing “anti-racist” rhetoric is that, like a debate over climate change or evolution, it risks causing bystanders to doubt the proper narrative only because a dialogue is occurring at all. It should be self-evident to everyone civilized by now that evidence is highly biased; trying to get into arguments with racists about crime rates, IQ scores, etc., only makes it seem as though they have a valid point. Isn’t a combination of ignorance and/or censorship a better option?