Marc Knobel is a French Jew who has devoted his life to fighting
neo-Nazism, a fight that has taken him repeatedly to the Internet and
American websites. In February 2000, Knobel was sitting in Paris,
searching the Web for Nazi memorabilia. He went to the auction site
of yahoo.com, where to his horror he saw page after page of swastika
arm bands, SS daggers, concentration camp photos, and even replicas
of the Zyklon B gas canisters. He had found a vast collection of Nazi
mementos, for sale and easily available
in France but hosted on a com-
puter in the United States by the Internet giant Yahoo.'
Two years earlier, Knobel had discovered Nazi hate sites on
America online and threatened a public relations war. AOL closed
the sites, and Knobel assumed that a similar threat against Yahoo would
have a similar effect. He was wrong.
AOL, it turned out, was atypical.
Located in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, AOL had always been sen-
sitive to public relations, politics, and the realities of government power.
It was more careful than most Internet companies about keeping of-
fensive information off its sites.
Yahoo, in contrast, was a product of Silicon Valley's 1990s bubble
culture. From its origins as the hobby of Stanford graduate students
Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo by 2000 had grown to be the mighty
"Lord of the Portals." At the time, Yahoo was the Internet entrance
point for more users than any other website, with a stock price, as
2000 began, of $475 per share.z Yang, Yahoo's billionaire leader, was
confident and brash-he
"liked the general definition of a yahoo: 'rude,