Where to draw the line on hate speech online?

Before the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, the Daily Stormer — a neo-Nazi website involved in organizing the white supremacist rally that led to her killing — was easy to find: all you had to do was type in the Web address. Now the site has all but vanished from the Internet. That’s due to the decision of a handful of Internet companies to reject the publication as a customer in the wake of Charlottesville — a reasonable choice that nevertheless raises difficult questions about limiting speech online.

After the Daily Stormer published a post crowing over Ms. Heyer’s death, the company hosting the website and providing it with a domain name withdrew its services, booting the site offline. The website bounced from service to service as each rejected it in turn. Then, Cloudflare — a company that provides protection from cyberattacks — pulled the plug as well. Without Cloudflare’s support, hackers have knocked the website offline each time it’s tried to reemerge. Currently, the site exists only on a hidden corner of the “dark web,” off-limits to casual browsers.

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