Alt-Right and freedom of speech in Silicon Valley
By Mark Niu
["north america"]
Facebook and Google are cracking down on what they have deemed “hate speech.” That’s led the alt-right crowd to start their own Internet platforms to get their message across.
On the new crowdfunding site Hatreon – you’ll find self-proclaimed “pro-white” creators asking for funding, including well-known white supremacist Richard Spencer.
Hatreon is a direct response to the crowdfunding site Patreon, which recently deleted the accounts of conservative Lauren Southern and members of Defend Europe. That group sought to block NGO ships from rescuing refugees.
“That’s a violation of a section of our content policy that prohibits creators from threatening to take or taking action that could lead to harm or loss of life,” Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon said.
Paypal recently posted a statement saying it’s working to ensure its services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote racial intolerance.
Google also fueled controversy when it fired engineer James Damore after he wrote a paper arguing biological differences between men and women are the reason for the tech industry’s gender imbalance.
“It’s important for companies to express the beliefs of their employees to fit with what those employees want to see in the world,” Chris Yeh, a General Partner at Wasabi Ventures Global said. “But at the same time understand that because Silicon Valley is now providing the tools by which people communicate there’s a greater responsibility.”
Paypal office building in Silicon Valley /Reuters Photo

Paypal office building in Silicon Valley /Reuters Photo

Yeh also warns of the dangers of stamping out voices that aren’t in line with your own even. He ironically points out that Paypal was originally started by conservatives such as former CEO David Sacks and Trump adviser and Facebook Investor Peter Thiel.
“They have been even more successful in the decades since, and I speculate one of the reasons why,” Yeh said. “In a region where the politics all lean in one direction, people with a different set of politics are actually outsiders. Outsiders tend to create the disruptions in society.”
That’s what it’s like to be part of the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley, where both moderate and far-right wing speakers regularly take the stage.
“I think the power of the Internet and the gatekeepers of the Internet should not use their leverage to deny speech they don’t agree with,” Larry Greenfield, Political Commentator said.
I asked whether those waving swastika symbols cross that line, Greenfield added:
“I don’t think the American people need to be lectured at how bad, awful, filthy, extremist right-wing, white nationalist, national socialist, neo-Nazis are. Having said that, I would not ban the speech rights of even Nazis. I would ban or target or exclude radical Islamic terror groups, which formally declare war on the United States.”
Greenfield says if Silicon Valley pushes a liberal agenda too far, it risks isolating customers that are more than willing to look elsewhere for services.