A website run by Richard Spencer, the white nationalist leader credited with coining the term “alt-right,” has gone offline after running afoul of GoDaddy, the internet’s largest domain registrar.
GoDaddy has stopped servicing AltRight.com for violating its rules against promoting violence, the company said in a statement Thursday, effectively rendering the website unreachable until a different registrar agrees to willingly serve as its replacement.
“GoDaddy does not condone content that advocates expressions of hate, racism or bigotry. However, we generally do not take action on complaints that would constitute censorship of content and that represents the exercise of freedom of speech and expression on the Internet,” GoDaddy said in a statement.
“In instances where a site goes beyond the mere exercise of these freedoms, however, and crosses over to promoting, encouraging or otherwise engaging in specific acts of violence against any person, we will take action,” the statement said. “It is our determination that altright.com crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence in a direct and threatening manner.”
Mr. Spencer said that he intended to take his business elsewhere, but he conceded that he could face obstacles attempting to get back online.
“At the moment,” Mr. Spencer told The Washington Times, “Silicon Valley is a greater threat to free speech than the government.”
Mr. Spencer, 39, has served since 2011 as head of the National Policy Institute, a think tank “dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent,” according to its website. He coined the phrase “alternative right” in 2008 and subsequently garnered media attention over his association with the ideology when its shortened form entered the mainstream lexicon in 2016, then again last year over his participation in the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Alt-right is “a Eurocentric political ideology which advocates the preservation of national identity, a return to traditional Western values and advances European racial interests,” an attorney representing Mr. Spencer explained previously.
“What I want for this is to be a one-stop shop,” Mr. Spencer said when he launched AltRight.com in early 2017. “So basically if you’re already in the alt-right, this will be a great place to just learn about what’s happening. If you just heard about the alt-right, just because of the URL, hopefully this will be the top hit on Google.”
But the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a legal group that took credit for GoDaddy’s decision, said it contacted the registrar last month with examples from AltRight.com it believed to be in violation of the company’s terms of service, including a January 2018 article endorsing “brutality and vengeance by our guys on the border,” as well as multiple anti-Semitic and threatening comments left on the website by visitors.
“We recognize that public sites that allow for user comments cannot control what comments posted by readers,” the group’s director, Kristen Clarke, wrote in a letter to GoDaddy dated April 20. “However, by promoting illegal and violent acts in its articles, [AltRight.com’s] content has an impact beyond its published articles and encourages a downward spiral of violent and threatening posts in its comments’ section.”
Ms. Clarke applauded GoDaddy’s decision to boot AltRight.com and said that her group “will continue using every tool in our arsenal to confront the rise in hate and to obstruct the work of those bent on polarizing communities and sowing hatred by inciting violence.”
Indeed, Mr. Spencer’s website is hardly the only one in the crosshairs of the Lawyer’s Committee. Ms. Clarke led a similar effort last year against Stormfront, the internet’s longest-running white nationalist website, and earlier this week her group sued the publisher of The Daily Stormer, a crude website ride with neo-Nazi commentary previously banned by the internet’s two biggest registrars.
Speaking to The Washington Times, however, Mr. Spencer said that major differences exist between AltRight.com and other sites targeted in the past with similar success.
“The opposition is making fewer and fewer distinctions,” he told The Times. “Indeed, they are failing to distinguish between so-called ‘hate speech’ and actually violent actors.”
GoDaddy and then Google dropped The Daily Stormer last year after its publisher, Andrew Anglin, wrote an article mocking a woman killed protesting the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer. Mr. Spencer had been scheduled to speak at the event, but his appearance was cancelled when the event fell apart upon clashes erupting between counterprotesters and participants including neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
Stormfront, meanwhile, briefly lost its web address of over two decades after Ms. Clarke’s group raised concerns last year with its registrar, Network Solutions, citing content that allegedly “crossed the line of permissible speech and incited and promoted violence.
AltRight.com remained inaccessible as of Friday evening.