The 'top hate site in America' is surging in popularity
ANALYSIS: It's been a banner year for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that the United States' Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the "top hate site in America".
Since the Daily Stormer's preferred candidate, Donald Trump, won the presidential election, it has seen a surge in popularity and has launched a Spanish-language edition.
Now there are reports that somebody affiliated with the Daily Stormer may have played a role in the French presidential election by allegedly helping to post fake documents to damage the eventual winner, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The allegation, first reported by the Wall Street Journal based on work by Swedish security researchers, relies on a report on the digital connections between the Daily Stormer site and online posts of the fake documents, supposedly showing evidence of offshore accounts controlled by Macron.
No governments officials have confirmed the alleged role of the Daily Stormer or anybody affiliated with the site. But the evidence is convincing, said Tord Lundstrom of VirtualRoad.org.
"We have strong confidence that the 'fake offshore documents' known as #MacronGate are connected with" the Daily Stormer, Lundstrom wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
VirtualRoad.org's report notes several alleged connections between Andrew Auernheimer, an American writer for the Daily Stormer, and the fake Macron documents.
One of the clearest showed up on the wide-ranging discussion site 4chan.org, where an anonymous person directed readers how to access the fake Macron documents. That post also pointed users to another site, nouveaumartel.com, for more information.
Records showed that site was registered to a person listed as "Weevlos," a pseudonym used by Auernheimer. That second site also used the same server in Latvia that hosts the Daily Stormer, the report by VirtualRoad.org said.
Tor Ekeland, a lawyer who in the past has represented Auernheimer, was reached by email but did not offer comment on the allegations by the security researchers. The publisher of the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, did not respond to emails sent to an address listed under "Contact" on the site.
The international ambitions of the Daily Stormer, however, are clear enough.
Auernheimer, who aside from his affiliation with the Daily Stormer is a well-known computer hacker and Internet troll, announced the launch of the new Spanish-language site, called El Daily Stormer, in a post this month.
Publishing only in English had become "a problem", he wrote. "If our goal is to spread National Socialism and Hitlerism across the world, we must have sites publishing in all the world's most spoken languages."
It might seem like an odd move for a site known, at least in part, for its invectives against Hispanic immigrants. After all, it was President Trump's remarks about rapists and drug dealers crossing the border from Mexico that earned him an endorsement from the Daily Stormer in June 2015. (Trump has disavowed white supremacists through his spokesmen.)
Founded in 2013 by Anglin, the Daily Stormer started as an outlet for meme-type content related to the white supremacist movement. Taking its name from the newspaper "Der Sturmer", a propaganda tool for the Nazis in Germany, it expanded to include sections dedicated to black-on-white crime, anti-Semitism and longer, slur-laden takes on social issues.
The site regularly encourages its "Stormer Troll Army" to harass its perceived enemies online. Shortly after the presidential election, for example, it called on readers to troll Hillary Clinton supporters into suicide.
Anglin is being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Tanya Gersh, a Montana real estate agent who alleges she received hundreds of harassing messages after the Daily Stormer urged readers to participate in a "troll storm" against her. A post on the site accused Gersh of blackmailing the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has warned that the Daily Stormer's growing influence could have dangerous results. "The Daily Stormer is not merely a propaganda shop," the organisation said in February. "Increasingly, it has become a malignant presence in the real world."
In his post about the launch of El Daily Stormer, Auernheimer said the Daily Stormer hoped to soon start publishing in Mandarin, Hindi and French, and launch a women's publication modelled after the magazine distributed by the Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft, the women's wing of Hitler's Nazi Party.
"The effort does not stop here," Auernheimer wrote.
- The Washington Post