The major social media sites have been making some weak, token efforts to clean up the racism and sexism endemic to places like Twitter and Facebook, but so far it’s been feeble. They’ll occasionally boot someone who gets as obnoxious as Andrew Anglin or Chuck C. Johnson, but it takes months or years of complaints (which I think is usually totally ineffective) or that they do something that is high profile and starts making the service look bad. But meanwhile, it’s fine for Joe Sixpack with 50 followers to scribble about how women should be happy to be raped, or that Jews belong in ovens, with no repercussions at all. We know, however, that Twitter and Facebook could prohibit hate speech, because they already do in France and Germany. It’s a conscious plan to allow Nazis to flourish in American social media. Why?
In an article about alternative social media, there’s a hint. The white nationalists, the Nazis, the MRAs, the general bottom-feeding trash of the internet, are getting worried about the few examples of evicted Nazis, and so are building their own new brands: a chat network called Gab, and there’s something that is an alternative to Patreon that is, amusingly, openly called Hatreon, for people who want to get paid for hating. If you’re wondering why American companies are so reluctant to block online hatred, one answer is that American tech workers have a high proportion of haters.
The early iterations of whatever Gab’s movement produces may very well be funded by its builders, many of whom purportedly have high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley. Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the Daily Stormer, told Mother Jones in March that the majority of his site’s traffic comes from Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley. “The average alt-right-ist,” the white supremacist Richard Spencer told the magazine, “is probably a 28-year-old tech-savvy guy working in IT.”
But why? Why would American computer programmers drift towards Naziism? I think there’s an answer to that, too. They’re saturated in triumphal capitalism, and in particular, Libertarianism, which is the gateway drug to full-blown greed, which they’ve branded as “liberty”.
Since Google fired Damore and Gab lost its spot in the Google app store, the effort to found an alt-right internet has taken on a new urgency. Dickinson released a slide deck on Friday to try to appeal to investors and new entrants who wish to join the budding movement. “Alt-Tech promises to restore and revive the old libertarian ethos of technology as a leveler and tool for increasing liberty,” read his slides, which proclaim that the movement doesn’t care about race, gender, or pedigree and that its motto is “Shut up and code.” The plan promises to revitalize rural and small-town America by providing engineering jobs to people who will build the new “anti-Marxist” internet. “The first VCs to fund these alternatives will be the ground floor profit-makers of the Alt-Tech revolution,” reads one of his slides.
In the past two weeks, a handful of far-right video bloggers have jumped onboard to promote the nascent movement, including Styxhexenhammer666, a popular libertarian video blogger, whose two videos about the effort have notched almost 70,000 views. Others have posted “call to action” videos, rallying technologists to join the movement to build “new ‘free speech’ platforms,” which have also attracted thousands of viewers. While these might not read as huge numbers, they suggest a movement with a groundswell of grassroots support.
They don’t care about race or gender. That usually means they don’t care about the inequities constructed around race and gender, because they’re mostly white men who have got theirs already. They also claim to not believe in ideology, even to be ideology-free, while not noticing that they’re soaking in a particularly ugly ideology.
“Most of the people that I see migrating to alternative social platforms identify as either Conservative or Libertarian,” one member of Gab who asked not to be named told me in an email. “They see how there is a double-standard when it comes to enforcing so-called ‘hate-speech’ by Google, Facebook & Twitter. Much of what is being censored or shadow-banned is not hate filled. It is often simply an idea that the loudest do not agree with.” Unlike legacy white supremacist sites, Gab isn’t centered on any one political ideology, even if many hate-filled ideologies gravitated there. Rather, it’s ostensibly a place that values free speech first, no matter how offensive it is.
Oh, right. “Free speech”. I like free speech, I think it’s an important value to have, because I want to be able to loudly declare these people to be rancid, hate-filled, selfish assholes. I also recognize that there’s a difference between openly detesting an ideology and inciting the torture and murder of whole peoples, a distinction they fail to acknowledge. “I hate Jews” is an opinion that labels the speaker as a bigot; “We need to organize to do something about the Jewish Problem” is encouraging people to do physical harm.
But how can they say they aren’t centered on any one political ideology when they also admit that they’re full of conservatives and Libertarians? If Google and Apple wander very slightly from the far right (it’s insane that anyone thinks a major American corporation is actually liberal), they get blamed for being a gang of SJWs. But Gab specifically and intentionally appeals to far-right fascists, and they get to claim they’re relatively non-ideological.
“If Google and Apple are straight-up corporations for their political sides, they should openly declare their discriminatory behavior. They should be proud of it,” said Gab’s Sanduja. “They should not be mendacious and talk about change and be different. Stop engaging in sophistry. Come out to us as the major SJW platforms you are.”
It’s always revealing to see them using the same buzzwords my personal haters are fond of. I’m not black, I’m not Jewish, I’m not a woman, I should be safe, right? My privilege is sky high. But they’ve found a way to target me, too, so it’s more than just an empathy for others, they’d like to kill me, too. After all, I am one of those hated Social Justice Warriors.
So now I have to be a white Nordic male with Libertarian leanings to be part of this in-group? Keep on narrowing your requirements until no one meets them. I guess this is the point where I’m supposed to quote Reinhold Niebuhr or Martin Niemöller, but you already know what they said, it’s obvious. Except to Nazis.