Did Anonymous Hack the Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer Website?

Anonymous mask
A demonstrator wears an Anonymous mask during a protest inside the Bay Area Rapid Transit Civic Center station in San Francisco on August 15, 2011. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Members of the Anonymous hacktivist collective claim that neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer may have faked a claim that it had been taken over by hackers. 

Early Monday morning, web-hosting service GoDaddy announced it was removing the Daily Stormer after it published an article viciously insulting the activist killed Saturday after a car hit a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

GoDaddy tweeted that it had given the website 24 hours to find another server after violating its terms of use. Later, a message posted on the site claimed to be from Anonymous hacktivists who had taken over the site.

A post on the site read: “End of hate: Anonymous now in control of Daily Stormer.”

The hackers said they were taking over the site in the name of the killed activist, Heather Heyer, whom it described as a victim of “victim of white supremacist terrorism.”

The group said it was allowing the site to remain online for 24 hours “so the world can witness the hate,” the same period GoDaddy gave it to be removed from its servers. All links to articles on the site, including the Heyer article, remain active.

The Anonymous posting on the website was also tweeted from the @Dailystormers Twitter account. Anonymous is a loose collective, meaning that unconnected hackers can carry out attacks in its name.

Other members of the hacktivist collective cast doubt on the claims, pointing to the fact that articles on the site remained live. One said the message could even have been posted by Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer.

In a tweet, the @AnonyInfo Anonymous account said it could not confirm that the Daily Stormer was hacked. “Warning to our followers: We cannot confirm dailystormer was indeed hacked. Remain cautious. #OpDomesticTerrorism #Anonymous.”

The @YourAnonNews account, which has more than 1 million followers, tweeted about the alleged hack, claiming it was likely fake. “This is likely to be the derps from dailystormer engaging in a silly troll to woo their clueless base. If we're proven wrong, so be it,” it said.

The account tweeted that the claim could have been posted on the site to stir up supporters and portray the website’s removal as a conspiracy. The posting on the site claims the hackers were acting “in defense of the Jewish people.”

@AnonyInfo announced that other white nationalist websites had been taken offline, tweeting under the #OpDomesticTerrorism hashtag. It listed whitehonor.com, the3k.com and fightwhitegenocide.com. The last of these remained online at the time of publication, while an account suspension notice and an error message appeared on the first and second sites, respectively, when Newsweek tried to access them.

The Anonymous hacktivist collective emerged from the 4chan messaging board in the early 2010s and targeted government institutions in several countries, as well as corporations. 4chan is also the site where the “alt-right” subculture emerged, with key figures in the movement among those who addressed Saturday’s rally.

GoDaddy has previously been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit, for hosting the Daily Stormer. The site is unlikely to find another company willing to host it, so it could soon be erased from the internet.