The Tech Industry Continues to Profit From White Supremacy

The Southern Poverty Law Center has just released a revealing report examining which of your favorite tech companies support white supremacists and other hate groups. “How Tech Supports Hate” reads like a who’s-who of the tech industry, but it’s also an indictment of companies that sometimes profess a desire for upholding just values while privately profiting from despicable people.

This report explores three broadly interconnected issues: Who processes payments for SPLC-designated hate groups, making it possible for them to continue spreading hate? Who provides domain name registration and hosting services? And who connects them with advertising technology that allows them to expose new recruits to their views, given that many people are radicalized via the internet?

The organization specifically examined groups it has already designated as hateful. SPLC researchers looked up publicly available WHOIS information and visited their sites to view embedded advertising and tracking technologies. While the SPLC maintains an extensive list of hate groups, it’s worth noting that these organizations represent only a small chunk of hate online. In fact, it would be impossible to track down every single hate organization.

SPLC researchers found that PayPal and Stripe are leaders when it comes to payment processors who work with these groups, and Square is a lesser participant. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Gravatar all lend their ad technologies. Cloudflare, infamous for hosting hateful material under the banner of free speech, hosts a number of these sites, while big names in domain registration like DNC Holdings, GoDaddy, TuCows, Network Solutions and eNom provide services to these organizations.

Many hate groups also work in the bitcoin sphere, relying on this highly decentralized and unregulated alternative currency to stay ahead of their critics.

But there’s good news buried in this report too: Exposing people who support the work of white supremacists sometimes results in meaningful change. That was evident in 2017 when the Daily Stormer started to have trouble finding a domain name registrar after Google and GoDaddy, two major players in the field, decided to drop their business.

The fact that both of these companies continue to do business with hate groups illustrates that consumers must continue to apply pressure on this issue. Tech companies could, for example, use a master database of hate groups to exclude such organizations from their products and services. The proliferation of hateful speech from individuals on platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook also highlights that the tech industry may be in need of a third-party oversight organization to develop standards for codes of conduct and their enforcement.

In conversations about these issues, the question of free speech often arises. In the United States, there’s a constitutional protection that guarantees free speech rights, even when that speech is hateful. Some fear that calling attention to the companies that enable hate groups could be crossing a line and suppressing freedom of speech. It’s important to understand, though, that private actors can make business decisions on their own — just as a growing number of companies are dropping deals with the National Rifle Association.

If the government was demanding that companies provide — or not provide — services to hateful individuals or entities, that would be a problem. And no, bigotry — like refusing to serve an interracial couple or declining to make a cake for a same-gender couple’s wedding — is not protected speech. Anti-discrimination laws do not abridge individuals’ freedom of speech.

Take Action!

Join fellow Care2 activists in calling for the tech industry to tell hate groups that it’s not open for business.

Photo credit: World's Direction

56 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Maureen G
Maureen G7 months ago

What group/organisation etc doesn't benefit directly or indirectly from the Tech Industry? Also what is a hate group/organisation to one person is not to another....free speech is a powerful freedom for all.

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Angela J
Angela J7 months ago

Thanks

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 months ago

Noted.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld7 months ago

Peggy B.,
Well said. I think everyone could learn from the viewpoints of all. Especially in refraining from derogatory remarks.

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Peggy B
Peggy B7 months ago

Paul B...I appreciate what you're saying and I don't mean to disrespect far right or left as being totally wrong, however, when a point is made and all the sources are from just the one side, I wouldn't consider it gospel in truth. Many people only read or view the sites that are going to bolster their own beliefs. I try to see both sides and the entire scenario before I form an opinion. I vote independently and looking at the past, probably voted republican more often than democrat, but that was years ago before the GOP got so extremely right. There are many articles on care2 from far left and I don't bother reading them any more than far right as I know it will be biased. If I fight for a cause that the left supports doesn't make me any more of a liberal than if I support a cause by the right. I get peeved when I give an opinion and I am called names like libtard or worse. If caring about others, animals and the planets makes me a liberal then I'm a liberal, but I don't consider my feelings should be considered political.

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Winn A
Winn Adams7 months ago

Disgusting . . . . .

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Dan B
Dan Blossfeld7 months ago

RONALD.,
By your definition, a vast number of organizations could be labels gate groups, including care2. When you start expanding the definition to include all these other groups, you just dilute the meaning.

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Loredana V
Loredana V7 months ago

Comments are more interesting than the article :)

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