A new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said pressuring online platforms and other internet services to remove those it deems to be far-right extremists is effective in limiting their reach. The report was authored by the ADL's Center for Technology and Society Belfer fellow Megan Squire.
In preparing the report, Squire analyzed four deplatformed websites, including forum website The Donald, website The Daily Stormer, forum 8chan, and political commentator Nick Fuentes.
Squire compared the individuals and sites' popularity before and after they were deplatformed, saying the objective is limiting the spread of hateful ideology, not cutting traffic. And according to Squire, deplatforming is an effective way of achieving that goal.
“Deplatforming websites—removing infrastructure services they need to operate such as website hosting—can reduce the spread and reach of extremism and hate online,” she wrote.
Deplatforming also financially affects content creators in other ways. For instance, Fuentes was removed from YouTube and forced to incur the cost of hosting his content on his website. On YouTube, he hosted the content for free and was able to monetize the content. Currently, “he has to run all of that infrastructure himself. He has to find the developers, he has to maintain the website, he has to pay for all that bandwidth,” Squire said.
However, the content creators in Squire's report have survived even after deplatforming. Others have disappeared.
Squire notes that while deplatforming “works,” the creators of these websites and platforms often “bounce back because there is someone out there that will replatform them.”
Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure and security company, last year acknowledged in its Q3 2022 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its departure from its neutral position, including the recent blocking of the Kiwi Farms online forum, has resulted in significant negative feedback and a loss of potential customers.
The company has recognized that taking actions against its customers, including banning them from using its products, may cause harm to its brand and reputation. Publicly traded companies such as Cloudflare are obligated to file quarterly reports, which include a section on risk factors.