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Lansing firm Liquid Web to remove website that inspired Charleston killer

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A local hosting a white supremacist website that inspired Charleston, South Carolina, mass murderer Dylan Roof has given its client 30 days to find a new home.

An investigation by tech magazine Gizmodo on where hate is hosted on the Internet reported July 11 that Lansing-based Liquid Web Solutions is the host of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

At its website you can find headlines like “Five Ways Whites are Discriminated Against in America,” “Machete Attack Every 90 Minutes in ‘Gun-Free’ Britain” and “If The South Had Won.” You can even order a bumper sticker that says “Ban Muslims, not guns” and fund President Trump’s border wall on GoFundMe.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, can trace its roots back to the Citizens Councils of America, more commonly known as the “White Citizens Councils.” During its infancy, it was a coalition of southern white supremacists fighting for segregation after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.

This website was the introduction of white nationalism to Roof, the South Carolina gunman who killed nine African-American churchgoers in 2015. Roof wrote about it in his manifesto. “The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong.”

Liquid Web’s security and legal team takes action when a site violates its Acceptable Use Policy, Liquid Web spokesman Terry Trout said.

“The site in question was reviewed by our team, and we have recommended that the customer in question seek another provider whose acceptable use policy is not at odds with their content.”

Liquid Web is giving the Council of Conservative Citizens an approximate one-month grace period to migrate its data within the next billing cycle before the account is terminated, Trout added. 

Liquid Web was founded by Holt native Matt Hill in his basement in 1997. It now services 32,000 clients, including The Home Depot and Motorola, and employs more than 500 worldwide. In Lansing, Liquid Web has two data centers with 33,000 servers.  With the motto “The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting,” it is lauded for its customer service and stable hosting by consumer reviews.

At times the views expressed on sites owned by our customers do not align with the ideology and diversity of our Liquid Web culture,” said Trout, Liquid Web vice president of marketing. “Liquid Web’s infrastructure is simply an enabler. We don’t, as a rule, police content.” 

However, the company does enforce an Acceptable Use Policy.

This policy shows the company reserves the right to terminate its hosting if it finds the customer “engaging in offensive activities such as harassment or transmitting or distributing content that is inappropriate, obscene, defamatory, threatening, abusive that advocates violence or that violates a law, regulation or public policy.”

Trout would not comment on how long the Council of Conservative Citizens was a client at Liquid Web.

Ingham County Commissioner Thomas Morgan said he was disturbed to hear Liquid Web Solutions was cashing checks from white supremacists.

“Here is a company we hold up as a local success story, but it turns out that a portion of their success is owed to helping fan the flames of hate,” Morgan said.

“Liquid Web is under no legal obligation to do business with alt-right fascists. I’d encourage the company’s leadership to immediately sever all ties to hate groups and donate every dime of revenue they’ve received from white supremacists to one of the many organizations working to combat hate.”

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