When the white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, the ostensible goal was to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. In pursuit of that right, protest organizer Chris Cantwell told a Vice documentary crew that they would kill people if necessary. One of them did.
But there was also another motive: In a post on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, now only accessible on the dark web, one of the event’s organizers explained that the rally was going to be a great way for the white nationalists to meet women.
We must have Chad Nationalism. That is what will make guys want to join us, that is what will make girls want to be our groupies. That will make us look like bad boys and heroes. That is what we are going for here.
In another post, now archived on Twitter, an organizer summarized the recruiting ethos for the group.
This part reads like an FBI serial-killer profile: pic.twitter.com/MMmTu9dVWI
— Bitterchick (@ohHollyHell) August 12, 2017
Loneliness and a feeling of impotence can push individuals to extreme lengths—for example, ISIS has used the promise of wives as a recruiting tactic. But joining a community built on bigotry apparently doesn’t increase the odds of getting a date. If anything, it does the opposite: Both Austin-based dating service Bumble and OkCupid (whose CEO is based in Austin) announced last week that white supremacists need to look elsewhere for a date.
Cantwell, the primary subject of the Vice documentary, was an OkCupid user until Thursday. When someone notified the dating service about his profile, the service deleted his account.
We were alerted that white supremacist Chris Cantwell was on OkCupid. Within 10 minutes we banned him for life.
— OkCupid (@okcupid) August 17, 2017
Although no specific user led to Bumble’s decision, the company opted to partner with the Anti-Defamation League to ensure that the dating service didn’t become an inadvertent platform for hate speech and symbols. To do so, it’s using moderators, machine learning, and the site’s own users to flag restricted speech and remove the accounts of those who spread it.
Whitney Wolfe, Bumble’s CEO and founder, said via a press release that “Bumble is a community of kindness and empowerment. This type of behavior goes against our mission as a company and is never welcome on our platform.” Bumble’s mission is more progressive than most dating apps—women have to initiate the conversation, which has led to criticism from groups affiliated with neo-Nazi beliefs, according to the company.
The steps from OkCupid and Bumble decrease the chances that an unsuspecting dating app user would find themselves matched with an avowed neo-Nazi or white supremacist, but more importantly, they show a decisive rejection of hate speech online as other social media platforms still hesitate to take a stand. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have all struggled to strike a balance—KKK leader David Duke still has a Twitter account, racist memes proliferate on Facebook, and video game walkthroughs on YouTube deliver misogyny and racism alongside gaming tips.
With the events of this week, though, the lines are a little clearer, at least in the world of dating apps. (There are dating services intended specifically for white supremacists.) The Anti-Defamation League notes that the way technology spreads messages makes it hard for social networking sites to police new phrases or images, like those that come up via meme factory sites like 4chan and 8chan, and its CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sounds encouraged by Bumble’s stance.
“We applaud Bumble for taking this clear stand against hate,” Greenblatt said. “Technology has accelerated the speed with which hate spreads, so it’s especially important for social networking platforms like Bumble to step up and speak out against hate speech and the use of hate symbols. We hope others platforms follow their lead, and we look forward to working with them.”