Stormfront founder and former Klansman Don Black announced on Tuesday that the white supremacist movement’s first major hate forum is temporarily restricting access to “sustaining members” — users who donate at least five dollars a month — and will be archiving and shuttering its main server on April 6 due to a “financial crisis.”
Black is well-known among white supremacists for perennially complaining about the costs of maintaining the site, which he has threatened to close before. This time, his threats appear to be real.
“I appreciate everybody’s support. But it’s that time of month again, when the big, scary bills hit,” Black wrote to current sustaining members. “Our contributions have once again totaled less than $2000, which is not enough to cover our basic server and radio bills, and this month we no longer have enough personal money to make up the difference.”
Stormfront’s influence cannot be understated. For over a decade, a Stormfront account was virtually mandatory for members of the white supremacist community to network and organize.
The forum also hosted a number of users who went on to commit violence. A 2014 study by the SPLC found that in the five previous years, the members of the forum murdered nearly 100 people — including 77 murdered by Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011.
Stormfront was founded in 1995 by Black after learning basic computer programming while serving a three-year sentence in federal prison for attempting to overthrow the government of Dominica with other white supremacists in 1981.
Although Stormfornt lost market share in recent years to sites like the Daily Stormer, the Right Stuff and social media platforms favored by the racist “alt-right,” it still commands a formidable audience of old guard racists — many of whom are still deeply respected on the racist right today.
Despite its reputation, Stormfront always struggled to pay its bills. Donations have trended downwards for almost a decade, leaving Black to rely on the generosity of several major donors including users “JEWFISH” and “white_usa_.”
Stormfront’s domain was seized in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2018, after the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a notice with Network Solution, a company that registered the forum’s domain.
These recent challenges cast serious doubt on Stormfront’s long term prospects, particularly given that Black’s wife, Chloe Black, paid the bills in recent years.
“Don Black’s wife, Chloe, had been working full time past retirement age to help support this site,” “Ruthless” wrote on the thread discussing the temporary restrictions on April 4, 2018. “All of the years that Don posted how much was needed to run this site and all the months that SF didn’t receive enough donations. That difference was made up from Chloe Black’s income.”
“The [radio] show will continue, but, Stormfront the Website suffers from a financial shortfall and it, contrary to rumors that circulate around that say, ‘Ohhhh, Don Black could run that website for fifteen dollars a month.' Well, I would welcome anybody to try that,” Black told his cohost Patrick Slattery on the April 2, 2018, episode of Stormfront Radio. "Don't worry, we're not going anywhere. We'll be back, I just, I need to reduce expenses, considerably.”
Black didn’t sound optimistic, even with an outpouring of support from his readers on the forum, many pledging to send cash donations imminently.
In the midst of Stormfront’s crisis, Black also cancelled his planned appearance at a League of the South conference in Wetumpka, Alabama, honoring David Duke and his 50th year of activism.
Stormfront, which represents one of the most complete and stable archives of white supremacist content in existence, functioned for years as an onboarding document for burgeoning white supremacists. With the temporary restriction of access to guests and free users and downgraded servers looming, a longstanding pillar of white supremacy looks poised to fall.