PHOENIX — Web-hosting company GoDaddy has told a website founded by white nationalist Richard Spencer to take its business elsewhere, saying the site encouraged and promoted violence.
In a statement sent to The Arizona Republic, Scottsdale-based GoDaddy said it generally doesn’t take action that could be viewed as censorship and that it upholds the exercise of freedom of speech and expression.
However, the company said it made an exception in the case of altright.com, founded by Spencer of the National Policy Institute.
The organization describes itself as “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world.”
GoDaddy took down altright.com Wednesday.
Spencer, in an interview with The Republic on Friday, said he is working to find a new host for the website within a couple of days.
The website of the National Policy Institute remains accessible. GoDaddy doesn’t host that site, and Spencer declined to say who does.
GoDaddy: Site directly encouraged violence
A statement from Ben Butler, GoDaddy’s director of global policy, said, “It is our determination that altright.com crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence in a direct and threatening manner.”
Butler’s statement said that while GoDaddy respects freedom of expression, it will act when a website “crosses over to promoting, encouraging, or otherwise engaging in specific acts of violence against any person.” The company also doesn’t “condone content that advocates expressions of hate, racism or bigotry,” according to the statement.
The alt-right is a loosely defined group whose far-right ideology includes racism, populism and white nationalism.
Civil rights group lodged complaint
A civil rights group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said it sent a letter last month to GoDaddy CEO Scott Wagner requesting that the company take action against altright.com.
The letter argued, partly, that the website was “actively inciting violence, particularly against racial and ethnic minorities.”
Spencer denied that.
Altright.com hasn’t been accused of any crime and didn’t call for violence, Spencer said.
“I’d never do that,” he said.
Spencer said GoDaddy’s actions raise questions about freedom of speech on the Internet, which was designed as a public utility and isn’t owned by any group or company. Spencer also said he has been banned from doing business on payment platforms such as PayPal and Stripe.
Butler said GoDaddy takes all complaints about website content seriously and has a team to investigate them.
Facebook also removed some altright.com pages last month.
‘A very fine line’
A GoDaddy spokesman didn’t comment on how frequently the company takes such action. But the company last year removed a neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, after violence at a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.
Google later removed the group’s website, too.
“It’s a very fine line between making sure we’re not being a censor and making sure we’re acting in a responsible manner,” GoDaddy’s then-CEO, Blake Irving, told CNBC. The Daily Stormer crossed the line when it criticized a woman killed during a counter-demonstration, he said.