Canada·Exposing Hate

Airbnb bans members of defunct neo-Nazi website Iron March

Airbnb has banned 60 accounts belonging to members of Iron March, a neo-Nazi forum that was taken down in 2017 and whose contents were leaked by activists this year.

'Our community is a better place without them,' short-term rental website says

Airbnb has previously removed accounts of people planning to attend white supremacist events in American cities. (Martin Bureau/Getty Images)

Airbnb has banned 60 accounts belonging to members of Iron March, a neo-Nazi forum that was taken down in 2017 and whose contents were leaked by activists this year.

The short-term rental company announced the move on Friday, six weeks after the online activists posted the entire database of the notorious forum.

"This was a no-brainer. When we see people on our platform pursuing behaviour antithetical to our Community Commitment, we take action to prioritize the safety of our community," an Airbnb spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.

"Anyone sympathetic to neo-Nazi ideology and violent extremism has absolutely no place on Airbnb, and our community is a better place without them."

Iron March was one of the most extreme far-right websites on the web, the birthplace of Atomwaffen Division, a terror group whose members have been charged in five homicides in the U.S. Iron March members often discussed serving in the military to gain combat experience for an eventual "race war."

A screenshot of an archived version of the Iron March forum before it was taken down in 2017. (Internet Archive)

Two years after disappearing from the web under mysterious circumstances, the full database of the website was leaked online by someone identified only as antifa-data. The leaks contained all post forums along with private messages, email addresses of members and their IP addresses.

Earlier this year, CBC traced about 90 members of the forum to Canada, including 10 who clamed to be in the Armed Forces or considering joining. CBC identified one of the members as a navy reservist in Calgary who espoused a violent fascist ideology but claims to have since been deradicalized.

Airbnb did not specify how it linked the Iron March data to its own members, saying only that it used its standard verification process. The company requires members to provide their names, email, phone number and photo ID to sign up.

"That's one kind of social consequence for being part of a hate group," said Evan Balgord of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. "It sends a signal that their views are condemned by every reasonable person."

In 2017, Airbnb removed user accounts of people who were seeking accommodations to take part in a far-right rally in Charlottesville, N.C., where one participant drove a car into counter-protesters, killing a woman named Heather Heyer.

This past April, Airbnb also removed the accounts of people linked to a hate group that organized a white nationalist gathering in a national park in Tennessee.

It later banned Canadian far-right figure Faith Goldy from the platform.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roberto Rocha

Journalist

Roberto Rocha is a data journalist with CBC/Radio-Canada.

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