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The tech industry has serious issues with bias and sexism — this is not news. Our progress toward equality is slow and imperfect. But as the news cycle pivots from the Google Manifesto to the deadly actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, we have a unique and critical opportunity to be on the right side of history when it comes to denouncing intolerance. Technology companies must seize the chance to resist hatred and stand on the front lines of resistance.
On Sunday night, GoDaddy gave 24-hour notice to the Daily Stormer — the white supremacist website where rally organizers had gathered — on terms-of-service violations. The hosting site made its decisive move after the site mocked Heather Heyer, who was killed when a militia member drove his car into a crowd. GoDaddy’s statement said, “this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service.” Two days later, Google cancelled the domain-name registration for the Daily Stormer.
As the week went on, resistance from STEM companies gained momentum. Kenneth Frazier, the African-American leader of pharmaceutical giant Merck, issued a statement saying that he had resigned from a presidential council due to Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacist groups. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier said.
It’s time for the rest of us to follow these leaders, and join the fight against hate groups.
Refuse their ads, ban their accounts, cancel their crowdfunding, adjust algorithms to eliminate their hate and bias. Social media sites: It’s time to get serious about cracking down on hate speech, prohibiting hate-group organizing, and protecting people of color from targeted harassment. Technologists, push your companies to enforce policies that limit the reach of bigots and racists, and offer pro-bono services — web hosting, ad inventory, analytics tools — to organizations that actively fight white supremacy.