Posted on May 17, 2018

Tech Industry Enlists Southern Poverty Law Center to Ferret Out ‘Hate’

Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, May 16, 2018

The Southern Poverty Law Center has {snip} watched its influence soar as the go-to consultant on “hate” for top tech firms, including Amazon, Spotify, Lyft and Google-owned YouTube, in the aftermath of the August white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Those alliances have both astounded and alarmed conservatives who fear that the center’s hotly contested “hate map” is being wielded to deny platforms to mainstream right-of-center groups and viewpoints.

Jim Campbell, senior attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has already seen it happen. The conservative non-profit was floored after being removed last month from AmazonSmile’s list of charities over its status as an “SPLC Designated Hate Group.”


What frustrates conservatives is that tech companies are accepting such designations seemingly without question even though the SPLC has long been accused of juicing its prodigious fundraising through fear-mongering.

“It’s important to know that the SPLC is not a neutral watchdog organization,” said Mr. Campbell. {snip}

Others are less diplomatic. Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson called the center a “thoroughly discredited left-wing group” after the Daily Caller reported in February that YouTube had partnered with the SPLC to police content on its platform.

“Today the center smears people that don’t deserve to be smeared,” said Fox commentator John Stossel in a January video for Reason, adding, “It’s now a left-wing, money-grabbing slander machine.”

After Spotify joined forces last week with the SPLC to target “hate content,” the Family Research Council said the music-streaming service “should be aware that they are partnering with an organization that was connected in federal court to domestic terrorism.”


The criticism doesn’t just come from the right. Journalists have been reporting for years on the SPLC’s fat endowment, high salaries and extensive fundraising operation, notably with Ken Silverstein’s groundbreaking 2000 report in Harper’s on how the center “profits from intolerance.”

In 2009, left-wing journalists Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn blasted SPLC executive director Morris Dees as the “arch-salesman of hate-mongering,” while the Atlantic slammed the center’s 2016 decision to list British anti-terrorism activist Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”


Days later, Apple donated $1 million to the center and agreed to match employee donations, while other companies cracked down on white-supremacist groups by closing their accounts and shutting off their access.


Critics fear that the tech industry has overcompensated by embracing the SPLC and its “hate map,” which has grown in the last year from 917 to 954 organizations ranging from the KKK to mainstream conservative outfits like the Family Research Council.

When the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell unveiled Tuesday a coalition to fight threats to free speech, Conservatives Against Online Censorship, he specifically named the Southern Poverty Law Center.