Friday evening, the oldest Neo-Nazi web forum on the internet went dark. Network Solutions’ decision to seize Stormfront.org’s domain comes in the wake of the Charlottesville Unite the Right (UTR) rally, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer.
The rally was deliberately planned to bring the movement’s most recent iteration — the web-based racist “alt-right” —into the real world.
A group known as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a notice with Network Solutions on August 21, 2017 informing them that www.stormfront.org (Stormfront), a website using Network Solutions’ domain registration services, violates the provision of your Acceptable Use Policy “AUP.”
A search on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers website for stormfront.org lists the domain status as under “clientHold,” which means that the website’s managers are prevented from accessing, transferring or updating the site.
The incident marks a renewed bout of public interest in the promulgation of far-right racist rhetoric in the digital world after Andrew Anglin, the editor and founder of the Daily Stormer, slurred Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, as a “drain on society,” among other disparaging remarks.
Since the post, the Daily Stormer has been banned from multiple web hosts including GoDaddy, Google and a Russian .ru web domain.
Stormer webmaster Andrew “weev” Auernheimer apparently published “PunishedStormer.com” via DreamHost web hosting. This was an attempt to maintain the site on the “real web,” as opposed to the “dark web,” where the site has used an .onion address to circumvent ISP tracking.
Stormfront was caught in the crossfire due to its longstanding associations with White Nationalism, and particularly the Daily Stormer. As the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s complaint noted:
The AUP prohibits “utilizing the Services in a manner deemed, in Company’s sole discretion, to display bigotry, racism, discrimination, or hatred in any manner whatsoever.” Since its creation, Stormfront has been consistently recognized as a site for racial hatred and was even the subject of a documentary on the subject entitled Hate.com. The Stormfront website was use along with dailystormer.org to organize and encourage participation in the violent and fatal “Unite the Right” rally held in Charlottesville , Virginia last weekend. A representative sample of posts on the site refer to interracial coupled by slurs, share racist caricatures, or otherwise dehumanize minorities by referring to them as “creatures” or “ethnics.
While Stormer has been drawing the greatest attention from news agencies of late, Stormfront has stood as a monolithic entity in the White Nationalist community for some time. The site was born in 1995, founded upon founder Don Black’s release from prison for his role in a botched invasion of the island of Dominica. While behind bars, Black learned the coding and programming skills that would aid him in establishing and running the site.
Stormfront.org quickly carved out a niche for itself, pledging to “provide information not available in the controlled news media and to build a community of White activists working for the survival of our people,” under the motto of “White Pride Worldwide.” Before long, Black’s operation was the world’s most popular White Nationalist web forum, peaking at 300,000 registered members in May of 2015.
For those on the racist right, Stormfront represented an open, vibrant community. Contributors to the site included a stable of far-right celebrities such as Sam Dickson, who has recently gained notoriety by representing Richard Spencer in court, as well as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and garden-variety racists of all ideological persuasions.
Stormfront.org’s guidelines strictly warned new members not to post regarding violent threats or illegal activity. Nevertheless, there is a substantial and well-documented blood trail tied to the site.
A study by Hatewatch detailed the scores of murders committed by readers and posters on the site. Among them are such names as Joseph Paul Franklin, a serial killer convicted of eight murders, Wade Michael Page, who fatally shot himself after killing six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Anders Breivik, who killed 77 in a car bomb attack and shooting in Oslo, Norway.
Despite its stature in the white supremacist movement, Stormfront’s readership and donations pool has been dwindling over the past few years, as Hatewatch has reported. Of Stormfront’s 300,000 registered users, it should be noted that significantly fewer of those registered members are actually active on any given day, especially in recent months. .
Black and Stormfront suffered from an aging membership, which was increasingly out of touch with what has been referred to as “White Nationalism 2.0.”
Another major blow to the site occurred when Derek Black, Don’s son who he had groomed from childhood to man the helm of his father’s empire, defected by writing to the Southern Poverty Law Center to denounce white nationalism.
As Stormfront’s star was fading, the irony-laden and meme-savvy Daily Stormer surged above it in Alexa rankings, a fact frequently bemoaned by Black on his radio show on the RenseRadio network.
On Monday’s episode, Black made mention of the loss of Stormfront.org, decrying Network Solutions’ decision as censorship based on the site being “politically incorrect.”
“Because some Jewish lawyer decided that oh, we were promoting bigotry and hate, and that we had something to do with Charlottesville, so it doesn’t get any better than this does it [laughing]?”
At the time of his domain seizure, Black and his staff were in the process of planning a late September retreat for Stormfront.org users in the Tennessee mountains outside of Knoxville. Slated speakers included Black, David Duke, Sam Dickson, and others. Don Black has not indicated what his next plans for the conference. He has indicated he was “talking to his lawyers,” about legal action regarding Stormfront.org’s domain.