Earlier this week the popular firearms message board AR15.com was suddenly informed by the web services company GoDaddy that it would no longer be serving as the site’s registrar. While the move doesn’t impact the message board’s servers, it has had an impact on the website itself. More importantly, it appears to be another troubling part of a growing trend of Big Tech cracking down on disfavored speech.
AR15.com Owner Responds To Big Tech Attack On Site
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co I’m joined by Pete Brownell, co-chair of 2nd Adventure Group and the owner of AR15.com, to talk about GoDaddy’s abrupt decision and why he believes every gun owner should be concerned about a Big Tech and online censorship.
As Brownell describes, the move by GoDaddy came without warning, and without any opportunity to appeal the decision or to correct any issues.
“It actually happened right in the middle of a call that we were having with Juan [Avila], who’s the traditional owner and now a great partner with us at AR15.com,” Brownell relayed. “Juan was saying ‘hey, I’m hearing these words out there from GoDaddy about Parler. We’re with GoDaddy, so we better have our ducks in a row just in case. And as he was saying that they called and basically said ‘you’re out.'”
The reason for the removal of the website, according to what GoDaddy told Brownell and company, was “promoting and encouraging of violence.” As Brownell notes, the site’s policy specifically forbids promoting any illegal behavior, but he says the flood of comments coming in after the violence at the Capitol last Wednesday was hard for the site’s moderators to keep up with.
“We delete comments and threads when we see them that would connote that kind of violence that was proliferating on all social networks,” Brownell explains.
“We weren’t given the latitude to clean it up. It was such an explosion of concern about what was going on and some of the posters just got out of hand. And as we try to get them back in line and say ‘that doesn’t follow our policy, you can’t say that,’ it was such a volume we couldn’t keep up with it.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen comments like that (and comments calling for violence against the Right by the Left) on pretty much every social media platform out there, even with Twitter’s purge of more than 70,000 accounts promoting QAnon. Brownell says that GoDaddy’s decision appears to them to be targeted at certain speech or certain platforms rather than a universal rule applied to all.
AR15.com has a new registrar now, so if users are still having any issues getting to the site they should soon be resolved, and you can also reach the site by using AR15-backup.com. While the team at the site have done a great job of maintaining service through the sudden cancellation of their registrar, Brownell says that the issue is bigger than just one message board.
“When policies are made at a time like this, and companies react like this there are repercussions. And the reperscussions are they’ve just silenced and violated a voice that represents half of America. Not AR15, and not necessarily Parler, but they sent a signal that we’re targeting a group and we don’t want their voice on our platform,” Brownell declared.
“Now you can argue that they’re a private company and they can do what they want, but you can’t have this other protection that the government gives you in that case. You become a publisher in that case. When you start doing the things you’re doing you can’t have it both ways.”
Not only that, says Brownell, but it’s actually validating the idea that Big Tech is persecuting conservatives.
“It’s validating the tin foil hat theories.” he explained. “It’s no longer a fringe idea… When it’s a totalitarian approach and it only happens to one group and you see this other stuff still out there you start to go ‘Wow, wait a second. This is not good.’ And it’s not what America is about. Freedom of speech is fighting for the speech that you disagree with the most. That’s what freedom of speech is.”
Brownell says he’d like to see groups across the political spectrum step up and push back against an online crackdown of points of view that may disfavored by those in Big Tech, and we actually have seen some on the Left try to argue to their friends that it’s the wrong move to make. The problem right now is that not many in power in Big Tech appear to be listening.