Over and over again, those on America’s far right have learned that the 1st Amendment doesn’t protect them from Silicon Valley tech companies.
For weeks, neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right figures have been organizing for a “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, which is expected to be one of the largest rallies of its kind in at least a decade.
But days before the rally, the short-term lodging service Airbnb started suspending the accounts of rally attendees who had rented houses in the area. Why? The San Francisco-headquartered company requires customers to “accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity,” among other things — a deal breaker for white nationalists, who have been banned by other popular companies for similar reasons.
It was a blow for the organizers, who had “taken over all of the large AirBnBs in a particular area,” according to a user on the message board for the Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, who had “set up ‘Nazi Uber’ and the ‘Hate Van’ to help in moving our people around as needed.”
This wasn’t the first time the far-right had to find someone willing to provide services for its members. Increasingly, the group’s solution is to provide its own.
Over the last two years, a crop of start-ups has begun offering social media platforms and financial services catering to right-wing Internet users.
“We’re getting banned from using payment-processing services, so we have no other choice,” said Tim Gionet, who goes by the name “Baked Alaska” and who is scheduled to speak at the Charlottesville rally. “If that’s the gamble they want to take, I guess they can, and we’ll make our own infrastructure.”
Read more at LA Times.