Over and over again, those on America’s far right have learned that the 1st Amendment doesn’t protect them from Silicon Valley tech companies.
For weeks, neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right figures have been organizing for a “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, which is expected to be one of the largest rallies of its kind in at least a decade.
But days before the rally, the short-term lodging service Airbnb started suspending the accounts of rally attendees who had rented houses in the area.
Why? The San Francisco-headquartered company requires customers to “accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity,” among other things — a deal breaker for white nationalists, who have been banned by other popular companies for similar reasons.
It was a blow for the organizers, who had “taken over all of the large AirBnBs in a particular area,” according to a user on the message board for the Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website, who had “set up ‘Nazi Uber’ and the ‘Hate Van’ to help in moving our people around as needed.”
This wasn’t the first time the far-right had to find someone willing to provide services for its members. Increasingly, the group’s solution is to provide its own.