Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.
The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for alt-right organizations to reach mass audiences.
But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement.
Gab.ai, a social network for promoting free speech, was founded in August 2016 by Silicon Valley engineers alienated by the region’s liberalism. Other conservatives have founded Infogalactic, a Wikipedia for the alt-right, as well as crowdfunding tools Hatreon and WeSearchr. The latter was used to raise money for James Damore, a white engineer who was fired after criticizing Google’s diversity policy.
“If there needs to be two versions of the Internet so be it,” Gab.ai tweeted Wednesday morning. The company’s spokesman, Utsav Sanduja, later warned of a “revolt” in Silicon Valley against the way tech companies are trying to control the national debate.
“There will be another type of Internet who is run by people politically incorrect, populist, and conservative,” Sanduja said.