Stormfront, one of the internet’s oldest and most popular white supremacist sites, has been taken offline as part of crackdown against hate sites following the Charlottesville disaster.
The address Stormfront.org went offline on Friday (25 August), while the site’s domain status has been listed as “under hold,” a category reserved for websites under legal dispute or slated for deletion, the USA Today network first reported.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a D.C.-based nonprofit group, said it was behind the effort and had successfully booted the website from its domain of 22 years by raising its concerns with Stormfront’s registrar, Network Solutions LLC, and its parent company, Web.com.
“Their website is a vehicle used to promote racially-motivated violence and hate,” Kristen Clarke, the committee’s executive director, said in a statement. “Following our efforts, Network Solutions has pulled the site. We are working across the country to combat the spread of hate crimes.”
“We will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to disrupt vehicles used to promote and incite racial violence across our country,” Clarke added. “Especially in the wake of tragic events in Charlottesville and the spike in hate crimes across the country, Stormfront crossed the line of permissible speech and incited and promoted violence.”
The site’s founder and administrator is Don Black, who served as a member of both the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party during the 1970s. He launched Stormfront in 1995, the first major hate site on the internet, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a Stormfront post Black wrote that the site’s mission was to provide information “not available in the controlled media” and to “build a community of White activists working for the survival of our people”.
The site boasted more than 300,000 registered members as of 2015, according to the SPLC.
Other notable alt-right sites have had their online addresses revoked in the weeks succeeding Charlottesville, the violent protest that was organised months in advance by white supremacists online.
On 14 August, web-hosting site GoDaddy booted The Daily Stormer off its platform following the publication of a controversial article about the late counter-protester, Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month.
The site was briefly reinstated on DreamHost last week, only to vanish again following an extended distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack just minutes afterwards, The Verge reported.
The Daily Stormer’s publisher, Andrew Anglin, said the shutting down of Stormfront sets a new precedent: "They can now just take you off the internet because you are white," he said.
"One thing to take away from this is that we have to stick together," he added.
As part of a widespread crackdown on hate speech by the internet giants, Twitter has suspended accounts associated with the Daily Stormer; Apple's payment service Apple Pay has disabled payment support for websites that sell racist and neo-Nazi apparel; Facebook banned accounts on its sites of at least one white nationalist who attended the rally; and Paypal pledged to stop supporting hate websites.
Meanwhile close to 2600 advertisers have disassociated themselves from right-wing American website Breitbart.