The internet gave white nationalists a platform to organize their Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It's also giving counter-protesters a way to strip them of anonymity.
A Twitter account called Yes, You're Racist has been naming and shaming people who joined the weekend rally against Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The rally became a focal point, attracting white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other supporters of "alt-right."
On Saturday, @YesYoureRacist asked followers, who currently total more than 240,000, to send names and social media profiles of anyone they recognized at the protests. The site has identified at least nine protesters so far.
The account named Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20-year-old University of Nevada, Reno, student, as one of the participants in the rally, which culminated in the death of Heather Heyer on Saturday after a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Cvjetanovic, who was photographed carrying a torch, defended himself to Channel 2 News in Reno, saying he joined the protests "for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture."
"I hope that the people sharing [my photo] are willing to listen that I'm not the angry racist they see in that photo," he said.
Cvjetanovic didn't respond to a request for comment via Facebook.
James Allsup, a college student and right-wing YouTuber, was also identified by the Twitter account. He previously confirmed in a late Saturday interview with fellow YouTuber Lauren Southern that he was at the protests, claiming: "The violence that I saw first hand take place was 100 percent started by people who are on the left."
The rapid use of Twitter to crowdsource in real time the identification of rally participants marks a new use of the platform. Twitter has strict rules about disclosing personal information, such as intimate photos, Social Security numbers and financial information. Identifying individuals from photographs taken in public settings, such as the rally, doesn't appear to violate those rules.
Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Berkeley, California, Top Dog, a hot dog restaurant, fired an employee after seeing a photo of him at the Unite the Right rally.
"The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by top dog," the company said on a sign photographed by Berkeleyside. "We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone."
The Yes, You're Racist account was created in October 2012. "I've been exposing casual racism on Twitter since 2012," the user behind the account said on a Patreon page.
Ramifications from the weekend's violence have crossed the internet. Domain provider GoDaddy issued a warning on Sunday night Pacific time to neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, giving it 24 hours to move its domain to another provider because the site had "violated our terms of service." The Daily Stormer was one of the key organizers of the weekend's Unite the Right rally. Hours later, a post on The Daily Stormer stated that the site had been taken over by hacktivist group Anonymous, though Anonymous did not immediately confirm its involvement in the hack.
The Unite the Right rally was met by counter-protesters, including the self-proclaimed anti-fascist group Antifa, leading to four arrests over the weekend, according to CBS News. One of those arrested was James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, who is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly plowing a car into a group of counter-protesters, leading to the death of 32-year-old Heyer of Charlottesville
First published, Aug. 14 at 4:27 p.m. AEST / Aug. 13 at 11:27 p.m. PT.
Update, Aug. 14 at 5:45 p.m. AEST / Aug. 14 at 12:45 a.m. PT: Adds details about GoDaddy's move to shut down The Daily Stormer domain.
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