I was saddened to read the alt-right describing Facebook and YouTube’s removal of Infowars as “simultaneously purg[ing] him from the internet“:
Whether you hate Alex Jones is beside the point. Do you love the fact a handful of tech monopolists have the power to simultaneously purge him from the internet?
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) August 6, 2018
I assume Mr Tracey has not heard of the World Wide Web, which Tim Berners-Lee invited the public to try 27 years ago yesterday:
On 6 August 1991 @timberners_lee first invited the public to participate in the world wide web. "The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system.” He added: "Try it”https://t.co/aPFOnXDbbC pic.twitter.com/YphZXzUfw1
— W3C (@w3c) August 6, 2018
(Alternatively, perhaps Mr. Tracey has heard of it, and is simply distorting the facts to mislead people – surely not?)
Anyway, this new-fangled “World Wide Web” allows anybody to make what we in the trade call “a website”.
Mr Jones’ Infowars site already has one, which hasn’t been “purged” by anyone. (I won’t link to it because, well, ewwwww. Don’t “wah wah censorship” at me; my website, my rules.) But, as a service to alt-right frothers everywhere, here’s how you can set up your own.
You could go to wordpress.com where, for as little as £3 a month, you can host your site with a custom domain name (so www.horriblebullshit.com instead of horriblebullshit.wordpress.com). Alt-right people will need to exercise a little verbal continence to comply with their user guidelines:
The following activity/material isn’t allowed on WordPress.com … Illegal content and conduct.
… you cannot post a genuine call for violence—or death—against an individual person, or groups of persons … Don’t share someone’s personal information without their consent.
Note that these pretty laissez-faire terms of service do not curtail your free speech; WordPress.com is a business and isn’t obliged to take your money. The American first amendment applies only to the government.
As an alternative to WordPress.com, Wix allows you to make your own pretty website with a drag and drop builder, and host it with them for a small amount of money. Again, a modicum of decency is required; you can’t publish stuff
which may be deemed as defamatory, libelous, obscene, harassing, threatening, incendiary, abusive, racist, offensive, deceptive or fraudulent, encouraging criminal or harmful conduct.
Squarespace and Weebly also allow you to build and host websites (although I haven’t tried them. I used to work for Wix).
Tumblr will host your content and videos, with community guidelines:
Don’t encourage violence or hatred. Don’t make violent threats or statements that incite violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism. Especially don’t do so on the basis of things like race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.
I think such rules on a website that somebody else owns are entirely legitimate. As clause 19 of Terms of Service on Alex Jones’ Infowars website says
If you violate these rules, your posts and/or user name will be deleted.
Remember: you are a guest here. It is not censorship if you violate the rules and your post is deleted. All civilizations have rules and if you violate them you can expect to be ostracized from the tribe.
If you don’t want to trust a third party with your data, good on you! I’m all for an web of independent authors. (Or perhaps you can’t even muster up the good manners to be hosted by one of these services, in which case, bad on you. Have a good hard look at yourself in the mirror.)
It’s very easy these days to register a domain name (Google it), set up the free, open-source blogging WordPress software, choose any of thousands of free themes, and publish to your heart’s content, especially if you choose a host that specialises in WordPress hosting. You might have to pay slightly more, and do a little bit more work to make sure all software is updated and secure — but that’s a price I’m willing to pay in order to own and control my own content.
So there you are, alt-right folks. I’m an atheist liberal, so I despise the divisive nonsense you excrete. But I love that the Web allows everyone to publish, and wouldn’t want you to feel left out because you’re misinformed by people like Michael Tracey who don’t understand the web.
Of course, it’s perfectly possible no-one will visit your website to read how Bin Laden faked the moon landings in order to draw attention from the fact that Marilyn Monroe was a CIA-funded muslim who invented income tax and fluoridated water in order to seize your guns and pollute your precious bodily fluids. But that’s freedom.