Domain registrar GoDaddy removed language from its website that said it prohibited “morally offensive activity” after a Daily Beast report highlighted the company’s policy—while continuing to provide services to neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.
The Daily Beast reported in July that GoDaddy was providing neo-Nazi hub The Daily Stormer with a service designed to stop stalkers and harassers, despite writing in bold text on its website, “don't even think about [emphasis theirs] using our service to ... engage in morally offensive activity.”
However, after the original story was published on July 6, GoDaddy removed the bolded text from the homepage of Domains By Proxy. The Daily Beast has also discovered that GoDaddy removed language from its service’s user agreement that warned customers not to “defame, embarrass, harm, abuse, threaten, or harass third parties,” or do anything “racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable.”
The Daily Beast has asked GoDaddy when these changes were made, and whether it informed users of these changes, but it the company did not respond at press time.
As of Monday, the Daily Stormer is no longer using a GoDaddy-run service called Domains By Proxy after the company said a disparaging article posted on the website about Heather Heyer, a woman who died in Charlottesville on Saturday, could "incite additional violence."
GoDaddy said in a statement on Monday that it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move to another service provider, or it would drop the website from its privacy service. GoDaddy said it does not host The Daily Stormer on its servers.
In a statement to The Daily Beast on Monday, a spokesperson from GoDaddy said The Daily Stormer had violated its terms of service after Anglin wrote an article that described a deceased woman, Heather Heyer, as a "fat, childless 32-year-old slut." Heyer died in Charlottesville on Saturday when police say James Alex Fields Jr. drove his vehicle into a crowd of protesters, injuring 19 other people.
"Given The Daily Stormer’s latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service," the statement said.
GoDaddy announced its plan to cut services to The Daily Stormer after Anglin's article about Heyer went viral on social media, and many users asked GoDaddy to suspend service to the site.
A search for The Daily Stormer via a WHOIS Lookup service on Monday morning revealed GoDaddy was no longer providing its privacy service to the website, meaning contact information for Andrew Anglin, its owner, was now public information. However, a short while later, another search revealed the site had begun using a different privacy service, called Contact Privacy Inc.
In Anglin's article about Heyer, he claimed "most people are glad she is dead" and said she was "a burden on society and [had] no value" because she had no children. Anglin also described her suspected killer, James Alex Fields Jr., as a "straight player" who "didn't give a fuck."
GoDaddy continued to accept payments from the website even after Anglin verbally attacked Jewish woman Tanya Gersh and her family, including her 12-year-old son, as The Daily Beast reported in July. Anglin is being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for what it said was a “harassment campaign that has relentlessly terrorized a Jewish woman and her family with anti-Semitic threats and messages.”
At the time, GoDaddy told The Daily Beast: “We do not see a reason to take any action under our terms of service as [the article] does not promote or encourage violence against people. While we detest the sentiment of this site and the article in question, we support First Amendment rights and, similar to the principles of free speech, that sometimes means allowing such tasteless, ignorant content.”
In its user agreement, the service states: “You acknowledge that [Domains By Proxy] may amend this Agreement at any time upon posting the amended terms on its website.”
GoDaddy's Domains By Proxy was launched in 2002 and provides WHOIS privacy to customers. It's designed to prevent anyone from searching for a given domain name via a WHOIS Lookup, and discovering contact details for the person who registered the domain. The service says it “helps protect against stalkers and harassers.”