They are being booted off or locked out of their websites. Some can no longer blog. Their electronic payment systems are being canceled. Even their music canâ€™t be heard.
For some white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, operating online has become much harder in the wake of last weekâ€™s â€œUnite the Rightâ€ protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in violent clashes between extremist groups and counterprotesters.
On Thursday, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist news site and one of the organizers of last weekendâ€™s demonstrations, was reportedly ejected from a Russian internet domain provider that was hosting its site. Its removal came at the request of Russiaâ€™s internet watchdog, according to the French news agency.
The Daily Stormer had recently turned to the Russian firm after being knocked offline by its U.S. providers, first GoDaddy, then Google.
As of Thursday night, the Daily Stormer was not online.
â€‹Resisting the role of censor
That laissez-faire approach appeared to be changing after last weekendâ€™s demonstrations prompted by the rallyâ€™s violence and the recognition that extremist groups rely on a host of digital services to organize.
But the shift comes with great ambivalence.
â€‹Potentially dangerous moves
CloudFlare, which makes websites secure and fast, decided to stop serving the Daily Stormer. But it wasnâ€™t an easy decision, wrote Matthew Prince, the firmâ€™s chief executive.
â€œSomeone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: â€˜Is this the day the internet dies?â€™â€
On Thursday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties in the digital world and one that has stood with tech companies in its battles with the U.S. government on surveillance, criticized the tech companiesâ€™ actions.
â€œWe strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google and Cloudflare did here was dangerous,â€ the organization wrote in a statement on its blog.
Tech companies, with few competitors, increasingly have more power to control online speech, EFF wrote, and â€œthe consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world.â€
â€œEvery time a company throws a vile neo-Nazi site off the Net, thousands of less visible decisions are made by companies with little oversight or transparency,â€ EFF added.
â€‹Cutting off financial services
While Google, GoDaddy and Cloudflare refused to host the Daily Stormer site, other extremist groups and supporters were affected in other ways, such as where they could stay, how they exchanged money and the music they listened to.
Ahead of the protests, Airbnb banned users from staying in Charlottesville if it appeared they were coming for the protests.
PayPal said it does not allow groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazi groups engaged in â€œactivities that promote hate, violence or racial intoleranceâ€ to use its service for processing payments. Apple Pay also pulled its services for groups selling far-right merchandise.
Spotify removed â€œhate bandsâ€ from its service.
WordPress, the blogging platform, cut off access to its site for Vanguard America, a group associated with James Fields, who allegedly drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of one woman and injuring nearly two dozen other people.
GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site, took down campaigns for assisting in Fieldsâ€™ legal defense.
Prince, of CloudFlare, wrote that making the decision to boot the Daily Stormer could change how the firm handles other takedown requests.
â€œMake no mistake, it will be a little bit harder for us to argue against a government somewhere pressuring us into taking down a site they donâ€™t like,â€ he said.