Nazis Want Net Neutrality Repealed to 'Unleash a Plague of Frogs on Twitter.' It Won't Happen

A man holds a sign of Pepe the frog, an alt-right icon, during a rally in Berkeley, California on April 27, 2017. JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

Internet Nazis have taken a side in the ongoing fight over net neutrality: They want big telecom to win and so-called net neutrality laws killed.

If this comes as a surprise to you, it's because you might be unaware of the degree to which companies and even entire countries have attempted to distance themselves from neo-Nazi and white supremacist content following the alleged murder of antiracist activist Heather Heyer at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia this August. Internet Nazis feel frustrated after being censored on social media, and being repeatedly forced onto the dark web. They claim that if net neutrality is eliminated, corporations will side with their right to free speech, enabling them to spit their online hatred at Jews, Muslims, people of color, the disabled or anyone else—without suffering any consequences.

But according to experts in the field of net neutrality, the Nazis are wrong. The repeal of net neutrality laws, if anything, would further empower the gatekeepers of the Internet to censor objectionable online content.

"If the alt-right movement thinks doing away with net neutrality laws will help them stay online, they are in for a big surprise," Ryan Singel, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School in California and an expert on net neutrality, told Newsweek.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission revealed a plan this month to do away with regulations that ensure net neutrality, or the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all Internet traffic equally. Proponents of net neutrality laws suggest that they give smaller companies a chance to thrive and that they help to protect free speech by forbidding internet companies from charging more for speedier access or from blocking their rivals. But Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC under President Donald Trump and a former lawyer for Verizon, is pushing to undo the Obama-era regulations in December, calling them unnecessary regulation.

Singel noted to Newsweek that if that happens, Internet gatekeepers will lose incentive to protect content that people want to see removed. For example, if a fast food restaurant sells a "racism burger," consumer advocates can damage the company's brand by making a fuss until they take the item off the menu. Right now, Internet providers can't block anything that is lawful, according to Singel, but without that level of protection—anything that hurts the brand is potentially fair game for removal.

Still, many Nazis really want this repeal to happen because they claim it will give them greater visibility online. "It will be a transformative thing, and it will unleash a plague of frogs on Twitter at full force again," Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin wrote on his website, the Daily Stormer, referring to a world after net neutrality laws have been repealed. "The cavalry is coming, my friends, and it is coming to do something about these kikes." (His anti-Semitic screed, which is only available on the dark web at the moment, closes with a goofy-looking photo-shopped image of a sun-shaped swastika rising over an idyllic field. When Anglin talks about frogs, he means Internet trolls who are steadily being removed from social media platforms like Twitter. When Anglin talks about kikes, he means Jewish people. He is an obsessive anti-Semite, and blames Jews for nearly any and every struggle in his life.)

Weev, another prominent, tech-savvy neo-Nazi with a large following and a passion for trolling, posted a YouTube video praising a potential repeal of net neutrality laws. Many of his fans in the comments fell in line with his point of view, suggesting that only the targets of their anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic abuse want to save net neutrality laws.

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, and the man credited with coining the phrase "net neutrality" in 2002, told Newsweek that the idea that a net neutrality repeal would somehow empower trolls was an "extremely bizarre idea." "Unless they think they can get the carriers to endorse their views, which I can't see," Wu added. "Generally net neutrality makes censorship harder. It is the First Amendment of the Internet. So I don't understand the argument at all."

Daily Stormer has lost upward of a dozen domain hosts following the violence that took place in Charlottesville because companies and countries simply don't want to be associated with its content. The site has venerated the man suspected of murdering Heyer with memes, and attempted to dismiss the seriousness of his alleged crime by promoting a vulgar, sexist conspiracy theory about her death.

Daily Stormer frequently calls for the harassment of Jewish people and people of color. The site also vocally supports violence against women and spousal abuse. Following reporting on that subject by Newsweek over the weekend, Hong Kong, the most recent territory to host the Daily Stormer, terminated its relationship with the website.

"The exact opposite thing of what these people want is what they're going to get," Singel told Newsweek about the expected repeal of net neutrality regulations on December 14.