Slack purges 28 accounts from chat platform over ties to hate groups
Online-collaboration platform Slack announced Thursday that it had purged nearly 30 accounts tied to hate groups on the heels of a report revealing its use by white nationalists.
“Today we removed 28 accounts because of their clear affiliation with known hate groups,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. “The use of Slack by hate groups runs counter to everything we believe in at Slack and is not welcome on our platform.”
The company’s announcement came less than a week after leaked chat logs showed that Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group the participated in the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, used chat platforms including Slack to coordinate regional and national activities.
“Slack is designed to help businesses communicate better and more collaboratively so people can do their best work,” Slack said in a statement. “Using Slack to encourage or incite hatred and violence against groups or individuals because of who they are is antithetical to our values and the very purpose of Slack.
“When we are made aware of an organization using Slack for illegal, harmful, or other prohibited purposes, we will investigate and take appropriate action and we are updating our terms of service to make that more explicit,” said the statement.
Launched in 2015, Slack boasted over 8 million daily users as of May 2018.
Slack did not identify the deleted accounts, but Patrick Casey, Identity Evropa’s former leader, said he was among those affected.
Chat logs published last week by Unicorn Riot, a non-profit media organization, exposed the use of dedicated Slack channels by Identity Evropa members to plot events throughout the East Coast.
“While Slack has a specific rule that outlaws Slack being used for a small range of illegal activities they do not have specific rules about white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups,” Unicorn Riot reported last Friday. “Regardless, Slack seems to have the ability to shut down channels at their discretion and one could argue that Identity Evropa does violate Slack’s policies.”
Identity Evropa rebranded following last week’s leaks under the label of the “American Identity Movement,” or AIM.
“This is yet another instance of a tech company deplatforming people for having the ‘wrong’ political views,” Mr. Casey, the president of AIM and Identity Evropa’s former leader, told The Washington Times on Thursday in response to Slack’s decision.
Mr. Casey lost access to several Slack servers that were slated to be retired later this week, he told The Times.
Identity Evropa was among the groups involved in planning the “Unite the Right” rally held in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Billed as a rally held in support of a Confederate statue, it turned chaotic amid clashes erupting between counterprotesters and participants, including neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Two Virginia State Police troopers died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the rally, and Heather Heyer, a counterprotester, was killed after an automobile driven by James Alex Fields, a “Unite the Right” participant, plowed into a crowd gathered in downtown Charlottesville. He was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder and faces additional charges.