WebOps platform Pantheon defends hosting “hate groups” as developers quit

Over the previous week, backlash erupted on LinkedIn, in a thread the place passionate open supply builders started criticizing Pantheon. The builders and different Pantheon supporters commenting had simply found that the web site operations platform—which hosts greater than 700,000 web sites—is at the moment internet hosting web sites for massively influential anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigration organizations which were designated as hate teams by the Southern Poverty Legislation Middle (SPLC).

The controversy sparked after a digital strategist, Greg Dunlap, posted a hyperlink to SPLC’s web page designating a Christian conservative authorized advocacy group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), as a hate group for its views on the LGBTQ group. On the web page, SPLC described ADF as supporting “recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults within the US and criminalization overseas,” defending “state-sanctioned sterilization of trans individuals overseas,” and claiming {that a} “gay agenda” will “destroy Christianity and society.”

In his LinkedIn submit, Dunlap tagged Pantheon co-founders Josh Koenig and Zack Rosen, and requested them why Pantheon is internet hosting an internet site for the alleged hate group. ADF additionally has ties to high-ranking Republicans and has influenced Supreme Court docket opinions (together with the choice to overturn Roe v. Wade).

Earlier than the founders may reply to Dunlap, a number of Pantheon supporters started voicing their considerations within the thread, together with declaring that Pantheon additionally hosts the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). SPLC designated FAIR as a hate group for having “ties to white supremacist teams and eugenicists” and making “many racist statements.” Amongst Pantheon supporters expressing disappointment in Pantheon internet hosting these designated hate teams have been clients who mentioned their organizations have been now in search of different internet hosting companies. There have been additionally builders, generally known as “Pantheon Heroes,” who mentioned they might cease helping Pantheon’s open supply tasks and could be leaving Pantheon’s program.

Koenig ultimately responded, confirming that Pantheon would proceed internet hosting the web sites talked about and never caving to the backlash. Koenig wrote:

“It is a tough and sophisticated matter, however the brief reply is that we decided on the very starting to be an open platform. That is our roots: open supply, open net, and so forth. We’re utilized by a really wide selection of causes, campaigns, and political actors. It is difficult when individuals we disagree with deeply on a private degree use our know-how, however we’re neither an advocacy group, nor within the content material moderation enterprise. I additionally recognize that that is irritating and dissatisfying to a whole lot of people, however we consider it is higher to be up entrance and clear about our place.”

Some LinkedIn commenters famous that Pantheon’s phrases of service prohibit utilizing Pantheon companies in any method thought of “abusive, threatening, harassing, hateful,” or “offensive.” The phrases additionally specify that Pantheon reserves the correct to take away any subscriber content material at any time.

However in a separate doc describing Pantheon’s “place on content material on our platform,” the platform says that its “default place is to chorus from moderating what our clients publish,” which implies Pantheon will present companies to organizations with “values and views that change broadly.” This coverage says that Pantheon differentiates between typical requests to take away content material that violates its phrases and different requests that ask Pantheon to “consider the mission or character of the organizations answerable for posting the content material.”

“Whereas our platform is especially well-suited for media, political campaigns, and advocacy organizations, we deliberately chorus from bringing our private beliefs and political viewpoints into buyer interactions,” Pantheon’s submit says. “As an organization, we consider Pantheon could make a much bigger distinction on the earth by supporting alternatives for optimistic impression than by limiting the usage of the platform.”

Koenig informed Ars that this coverage is why Pantheon will proceed internet hosting ADF’s web site.

“The Alliance Defending Freedom web site was flagged by our escalation course of as doubtlessly violating our phrases of service,” Koenig informed Ars. “This course of evaluates the content material on the web site, not the group itself. Whereas the views of this group are by no means aligned with the values Pantheon embraces internally, the content material reviewed on its web site was not discovered to be in violation with our phrases of service.”

ADF’s senior counsel and senior vice chairman of company engagement, Jeremy Tedesco, informed Ars that Pantheon was “doing the correct factor by refusing to bow to cancel tradition within the face of dishonest assaults.” Tedesco discredited the SPLC as a “blatantly partisan activist outfit,” and ADF’s web site says that ADF considers the hate group label as representing SPLC’s “subjective opinion.”

SPLC didn’t instantly reply to Ars’ request for remark.


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