After months of criticism that GoDaddy was providing a platform for hate speech, the Web hosting company announced late Sunday that it will no longer house the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that promotes white supremacist and white nationalist ideas.
GoDaddy said in a tweet that Daily Stormer had been told it had 24 hours to move its website domain to another provider because it had "violated" the Web host's "terms of service."
GoDaddy's announcement was in response to an appeal from a Twitter user who called attention late Sunday to an online post by Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin. The post disparaged Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed Saturday in Charlottesville, police say, after a man plowed into a crowd with his vehicle.
Heyer was among the hundreds who had turned out to protest against the controversial rally being held by white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members. The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and another count related to the hit-and-run, police said.
In the Daily Stormer post, Anglin characterized Heyer as dying in a "road age incident." He said she was a "drain on society" and disparaged her appearance. "Most people are glad she is dead," he wrote.
"@GoDaddy you host The Daily Stormer - they posted this on their site," Twitter user Amy Siskind said in an appeal to the Web hosting company. "Please retweet if you think this hate should be taken down & banned."
Siskind's post was shared more than 5,000 times.
GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race confirmed the company's decision to boot the Daily Stormer in an email to The Washington Post. He said the article about Heyer violated GoDaddy's terms of service, Race said.
"Given The Daily Stormer's latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service," Race wrote in the email.
Early Monday, just hours after GoDaddy made its announcement, a note appeared on the Daily's Stormer's website claiming it had been taken over by the hacking activist group Anonymous "in the name of Heather Heyer a victim of white supremacist terrorism." But a Twitter account claiming to be linked to Anonymous said it could not confirm that the Daily Storm was hacked. "Remain cautious," it advised.
The Daily Stormer and other websites characterized as espousing racist or anti-Semitic views have registered domain names with GoDaddy and use a privacy service called Domains by Proxy that is affiliated with GoDaddy, the Daily Beast reported last month.
Critics have pushed GoDaddy to ban these sites from its service, arguing that providing them a platform enables hate speech.
GoDaddy has previously said that the content, however "tasteless" and "ignorant," is protected by the First Amendment. The company told the Daily Beast in July that a Daily Stormer article threatening to "track down" the family members of CNN staffers did not violate Domains by Proxy's terms of service.
"We do not see a reason to take any action under our terms of service as does not promote or encourage violence against people," Ben Butler, GoDaddy's director of network abuse, told The Daily Beast. "While we detest the sentiment of this site and the article in question, we support First Amendment rights and, similar to the principles of free speech, that sometimes means allowing such tasteless, ignorant content."
The Daily Stormer has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the "top hate site in America," and publishes content disparaging Jewish people, people of color Muslims and women.