No. You didn’t.

Matthew Prince asks the question:

I helped kick a group of neo-Nazis off the internet last week, but since then I’ve wondered whether I made the right decision.

To ask the question is to answer it.

Matt Prince knows the correct answer.

At some level, it’s easy to fire Nazis as customers. They don’t pay you much, if anything, since Cloudflare offers a free version of its service. Our terms of use give us broad discretion to choose whom we allow to use our network.

I have a lot of sympathy for that view – the transaction wasn’t profitable and the company chose not to pursue the relationship. But he made a moral choice, not a business choice.

When standing up to government requests or angry Twitter demands to silence unpopular speech, it was powerful to be able to say we’d never terminated a customer due to political pressure. I’m not sure we can say that anymore.

Indeed – no, you can’t.

I’d like to fall back on the First Amendment. I’m the son of a journalist. I grew up with discussions around the dinner table on the importance of freedom of speech. But the First Amendment doesn’t compel private companies to let anyone broadcast on their platforms.

That is a terrible, terrible argument. It is true, of course. Yet I would like to see the underlying internet infrastructure to remain in private hands and not face pressure to be regulated as utilities or even nationalised and operated as utilities.  Matt Prince alludes to this point:

The upshot is that a few private companies have effectively become the gatekeepers to the public square—the blogs and social media that serve as today’s soapboxes and pamphlets. If a handful of tech executives decide to block you from their services, your content effectively can’t be on the internet.

Nobody really cares about Nazis – but now we know that commercial reality isn’t what motivates our gatekeepers but rather their personal values.

On this note if you haven’t ever seen it, the movie Skokie it is highly recommended.

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34 Responses to No. You didn’t.

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    The upshot is that a few private companies have effectively become the gatekeepers to the public square

    That those companies are run by lefties shows how little real-world knowledge they have.

    Overwhelmingly the governments who adopt censorship, who regulate companies like theirs, who repress political views, who nationalise companies they don’t like, who gaol company directors at whim, are Lefty.

    By encouraging lefty politics you guys are committing corporate suicide. Very soon someone in government will push to regulate you as utilities. What are you going to do then eh?

  2. alexnoaholdmate

    Don’t see the problem.

    The owner of a private service decided he didn’t want to do business with people whose views he abhorred. No dramas. He just can’t claim anymore that the opinions of his users / clients are irrelevant to him as a businessman, because they clearly aren’t. And now we know that.

    Free speech doesn’t extend to a privately-owned transmission service. You’ve made the same argument here yourself, Sinc. The Nazis can start up their own damn service, or find someone more willing to tolerate them, if they want to be able spread their filth, and that’s fine.

  3. alexnoaholdmate

    By encouraging lefty politics you guys are committing corporate suicide. Very soon someone in government will push to regulate you as utilities. What are you going to do then eh?

    Well, I agree. But we aren’t talking about Twitter kicking off Milo or something outrageous like that.

    We’re talking about Nazis. Actual goddamn Nazis. And I don’t think there are many who would be turned off by Cloudfare’s actions here, or would refuse to do business with them over this.

  4. Free Advice

    Just bake the damn cake!

    Hehehe.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    Alex – At the same time as Cloudflare booted that website Paypal pulled the plug on JihadWatch’s donations and the service provider for The Rebel evicted them with just 24 hrs notice.

    Neither JihadWatch nor The Rebel are run by Nazis. But they are hated by the Left.

  6. 2dogs

    a few private companies have effectively become the gatekeepers to the public square

    This has passed from the mainstream media to the tech companies. At least with the tech companies, their behaviour has been visible and transparent. When the MSM sweeps a story under the rug, it’s hidden. When Twitter suspends an account, it’s known instantly.

  7. Muddy

    I’m the son of a journalist.

    I’d be embarrassed to admit that in public.

  8. 2dogs

    What we need are 2 new stock market index, with the associated index funds that go with them. Let’s have a SJW index of all companies embracing this nonsense, and a PI (politically incorrect) index of companies that decidedly reject it.

    Once the difference in returns gets established, companies will start making more sensible decisions on these issues.

    But such a scheme would probably be regulated out of existence very quickly.

  9. Chris M

    And on what basis did he conclude they were Nazi’s, did they proclaim this?

    One thing about Nazi’s (National Socialists) is they hate Jews, just like Moslem theology. The left also mostly despise Jews but love Socialism, violent protests and the Moslem religion . So I wonder why they claim to hate Nazi’s when they share some core features and goals?

  10. Rabz

    Nobody really cares about nazis

    m0nty is obsessed with them. Sees them everywhere, he does.

  11. cynical1

    BareNakedIslam had its Paypal account closed months ago.

  12. John Constantine

    Ick bin ein literal confederate Nazi Russian Hitler.

  13. Diogenes

    In this I have some sympathy for Cloudflare , but none wrt to the Twatter/Milo, paypal/ jihadwatch/ therebel banning.

    Given that the nutzis made the leftists argument for them(the left that is) “you are hosting us, so you are agreeing with us” (stupid, stupid, stupid!) , Cloudflare really had no place to go. Its almost as if the nutzis were goading Cloudflare into ‘unhosting’ them

    If they continued to host the nutzis then the reputation damage would have been enormous, only other nutzis would want to be openly associated with the nutzis running the DS.

    Given the hate that was likely to be directed at the nutzis in terms of hack attempts & ddos, Cloudflare could have expended enormous resources trying to protect the DS, and any breach of the defenses may have had impacts on thousands of innocent website , including our beloved Cat. An easily defensible commercial decision.

  14. candy

    m0nty is obsessed with them. Sees them everywhere, he does.

    He is Nazi-curious, Rabz.

  15. stackja

    Business or politics? Let customers decide.

  16. Arky

    They crossed a line from which there is no return.
    Previously these autistic tech types claimed content was irrelevant. Not their responsibility.
    Well, by throwing someone off due to content you now by inference endorse all the other content you host.
    You can no longer claim to be indifferent to content. You decided to police content.
    Now you are responsible for content once it is brought to your attention.
    Bad mistake.

  17. Winston

    As they said in the classics: First, they came for the Nazis, and I said nothing . . .

  18. Truck

    Hmm… what happens if he refuses to host/takes down a LBGTIQ website?

  19. John

    First the supposed Nazis. Then it will be the Populists. Then the Conservatives. I dont agree with Nazi/Communist ideology, but I would rather it was out in the open rather than under the bed.

    Funny how its never the Communists or the Socialists or BLM.

  20. Tel

    Previously these autistic tech types claimed content was irrelevant. Not their responsibility.
    Well, by throwing someone off due to content you now by inference endorse all the other content you host.

    Hang on, hang on, slow down a moment here.

    The SJW decision making is not coming from the tech types, m’Kay, it’s coming from the management.

    You can no longer claim to be indifferent to content. You decided to police content.
    Now you are responsible for content once it is brought to your attention.
    Bad mistake.

    That’s known as the “common carrier” defense. By stepping in and getting involved with the blood and guts you are admitting that you are not a “common carrier” but a player in the game. This concept was invented by lawyers, not tech types. Believe me, I never had the slightest interest in law until I came to understand how much it encroached on my life.

  21. alexnoaholdmate

    He is Nazi-curious, Rabz.

    I did Nazi that one coming.

  22. Arky

    Let’s imagine how this might proceed.
    Say I’m a rich celebrity who wants to get richer.
    I might arrange for someone to post up a defamatory item about me hosted on Tech company X’s servers. Or whatever else Tech company X does that ensures people can browse the web and see random shit.
    I would then inform Tech company X about the item.
    If Tech company X does not remove the item immmediately: $$$$$$$$$$$$.
    In their defence they might say: we don’t concern ourselves with content, we just provide the infrastructure service.
    To which my lawyer would reply: but you do concern yourself with content: you took down those Nazis websites and according to your own statements it was because of content.

  23. Habib

    The ABC is a public funded broadcaster that doesn’t allow a majority of the population (and the major contributor to their wherewithall) access to any platform at any level and any time. Like I give a shit about some unknown media provider bumping nazis.

  24. Habib

    And private businesses should be able to refuse service, supply and employment to whoever they bloody well choose.

  25. Yohan

    The Daily Stormer was no platformed over a tasteless fat joke. Their website never advocate violence, its parody, they just make fun of jews and leftists. Its purely political.

    But if you believe in private property rights, tech companies can terminate their services to anyone, as long as its not a breach of their TOS. That is their right and they should be supported. Being a consistent libertarian means supporting free association and private property rights in personal and business relationships.

    This means you must also support cake shops refusing gay people. And business turning you away because of your race. And pubs allowing smokers.

  26. True Aussie

    The left also mostly despise Jews but love Socialism

    Which is hilarious since Socialism along with many other basic leftist beliefs (multiculturalism, mass immigration, white guilt, moral relativism and feminism) where all created by j ews

  27. True Aussie

    The left also mostly despise J ews but love Socialism

    Which is hilarious since Socialism along with many other basic leftist beliefs (multiculturalism, mass immigration, white guilt, moral relativism and feminism) where all created by j ews

  28. .

    What a stupid and odious thing to say.

    Let’s see if you are “only joking” again.

  29. Muzzlehatch

    The murder of Lavoy Finicum. Lest we forget.

  30. alexnoaholdmate

    What a stupid and odious thing to say.

    Let’s see if you are “only joking” again.

    “True Aussie” doesn’t seem to realise that true Aussies went to war to stop Nazis. They certainly wouldn’t go about trumpeting actual Nazi ideology every chance they get.

    He’s about as “Aussie” as warm beer. What a disgusting little worm.

  31. Zatara

    At the same time as Cloudflare booted that website Paypal pulled the plug on JihadWatch’s

    And as soon as the shitstorm started Paypal reinstated JihadWatch and the American Freedom Defense Institute as well, just for luck.

    There may be a lesson there.

  32. Wilma

    Having shaken off the deliberate misinformation of the paper media we now are faced with a censorious electronic media who more over we are told ,are happy to give out information to Muslims who follow the more extreme elements of their religion .l.

  33. Up The Workers!

    What’s good for the goose…

    If it is regarded as perfectly acceptable for rabid Leftard propaganda outfits like the publicly-funded A.L.P.B.C. and S.B.S., or like Channels 7, 9, 10, Fauxfacts, Cloudfare, Twitter, Google, Paypal, etc., to deny freedom of expression, reporting or even-handedness to anybody who disagrees with their totalitarian Leftard view of the world, then surely it will be equally appropriate for ALL Christian, MOSLEM and other religious faiths; reception centres, florists, caterers, hire-cars, hotels, motels, photographers, etc., to follow their precedent-setting example and flatly refuse to associate themselves with any future Q.W.E.R.T.Y.L.G.B.T.Q.I. marriage ceremonies.

    I’ve never yet noticed any of the totalitarian A.L.P./Brown Movement’s fearless Q.W.E.R.T.Y.L.G.B.T.Q.I. activist warriors lifting so much as a finger – let alone their voice – to prevent the egregiously public murders of gay people as a religious entertainment, when practised freely by their favourite 6th century “religion”.

  34. TheSenator

    “On this note if you haven’t ever seen it, the movie Skokie it is highly recommended.”

    And also the Blues Brothers!

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