After Shutdown, Daily Stormer Users Are Moving to a Dark Web Version of Site
The past few days have triggered a debate around the responsibility of tech companies to host or provide services for extremist content.
This article has been updated to include information on the dark web version of the Daily Stormer site.
After GoDaddy and then Google declined to hold the domain for white supremacist website The Daily Stormer, the site is currently offline. Seemingly in response, admins appear to have launched a dark web version of the site too.
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed, and their subsequent fallout have triggered a debate around the responsibility of tech companies hosting or providing services to extremist content.
Some visitors to the site are greeted with a typical blank error messages. Others see a message presumably from the site's admins.
"We're having an outage. It'll be a minute," a message posted on The Daily Stormer on around Tuesday morning reads. The message then directs visitors to use an internet chat room or the Daily Stormer Discord server.
Discord is a chat service particularly popular with gamers. On Monday, the company said it had shut down the altright.com's server, and the link provided in the Daily Stormer message was invalid or had expired at the time of writing.
Online lookups for the site's DNS records, which would have usually provided information on the site's domain registrar, returned no results.
Update 9:05 AM EST: Early Tuesday morning, users on Twitter started sharing a link for a dark web version of the Daily Stormer. Searches for the URL of the site returned no results on Google, indicating that the site may be newly created. (Although the content of dark web sites themselves may not be cached by Google, many sites maintain collections of addresses for Tor hidden services, which are catalogued by the search engine.)
The dark web site seems to function in much the same way as the original, with posts on recent events and other content.
Running as a Tor hidden service means the site will be largely immune to some of the issues the Daily Stormer has faced over the past few days. It doesn't rely on a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or Google, so those companies can't decide to stop providing services. And it is typically not possible to see what company is providing web servers to the site itself, making it unclear where to direct any complaints or takedown requests.
Moving to a hidden service is almost a natural step for a site that has been dumped by traditional web companies. Whether only a minority of users will actually download Tor and visit the site remains to be seen, however.