Gab and the decentralized web
An often-repeated argument about deplatforming fascists is that we'll just drive them underground. In my opinion, this is great: when we're literally talking about Nazis, driving them underground is the right thing to do. Yes, you'll always have neo-Nazis somewhere. But the more they're exposed to the mainstream, the more their movement may gain steam. This isn't an academic problem, or a problem of optics: give Nazis power and people will die. These are people who want to create ethnostates; they want to prioritize people based on their ethnicity and background. These movements start in some very dark places, and often end in genocide.
I think a lot of people have this idea that only good ideas gain steam. There are quite a few bad ideas that have massive support. Hence: The Marketplace of Ideas! (Nevermind that most real marketplaces exclude deceptive or blatantly consumer-harming goods.)
Some examples of bad ideas that have gained steam besides Nazism:
- Vaccines being more harmful than good (look at how many people died of diseases that are no big deal now before there were vaccines if you think this, BTW)
- Human-influenced global warming is not real (this is actually incredibly dangerous, even though it seems much more bloodless than Nazism)
- Women are not as smart as men
- The world is roughly 6,000 years old
Do I know exactly why people believe these things? No.
I think it's a combination of both interest (as in, people sometimes know or feel that they will benefit from believing something that is probably wrong) and educational background (e.g. knowing how the scientific method works and what came before it).
All of that is moot, though; whatever the cause, unreasonable, inhumane, and harmful ideas do gain steam. So, we do need to be responsible with which ideas we promote and where we promote them.