Gab is fighting for its existence. The self-described “free speech” social network was shut down by its host provider for a while Saturday night. Left and right tech its severing ties, banning and shutting the site out. Gab is to home people who claim that the site provides a place for the free flow of speech and ideas but it’s a safe haven for the alt-right, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists.
Gab came under fire Saturday as one of its members, Robert Bowers, was charged with the mass murder of 11 people at a Jewish community center and synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Bowers has not tried to hide his antisemitism.
On the contrary, he’s been vocal and public about his hatred for Jews. And he had, emphasis on had, a place to share those ideas, a place where he was met with some who were liked-minded. On Gab, Bowers was welcome, or at least his ideas were not enough to throw him off the site since it’s supposed to be a place for free speech. Or at least that’s its claim.
But when it was revealed that Gab member Bowers was the alleged gunman responsible for the slaughter of 11 people and the injuring of many more, including law enforcement officers, Gab banned him and issued a statement on Medium. And it said reported Bowers to the FBI, after the incident. It did not report Bowers before. And it found his speech, filled with venom and hate, his right and gave him a home.
Gab is under fire. But it’s been under fire before. And as of Saturday night, its host, Joyent has shut it down.
“Gab has until 9 a.m. Sunday to Gab’s new hosting provider, has just pulled our hosting service. They have given us until 9am on Monday to find a solution. Gab will likely be down for weeks because of this. Working on solutions. We will never give up on defending free speech for all people.”
Here’s what you need to know about Gab:
1. Robert Bowers Was on Gab & There, He Posted Hate Speech Directed at Jews
“Jews are the children of Satan,” Bowers posted.
The Anti-Defamation League posted, “If this Gab post is indeed from the alleged #PittsburghSynagogue shooter Robert Bowers, it suggests he is not merely an anti-Semite, but a dedicated white supremacist as well. #Pittsburgh #SynagogueShooting.”
2. Gab Issued a Statement Condemning Bowers & Said it Worked With the DOJ & FBI & Shared ‘Data’ About the Avowed Anti-Semite
Calling itself an “ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online,” Gab denounced the alleged actions of Bowers, a Gab member. In its statement, it did not reference his anti-Semitism but instead said its policy against acts of terror are clear: “We a have zero tolerance for it.”
“Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. This has always been our policy. We are saddened and disgusted by the news of violence in Pittsburgh and are keeping the families and friends of all victims in our thoughts and prayers.”
And meanwhile on the site:
The site, founded by Andrew Torba, and from whom the statement likely came, said, “Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners. This person also had accounts on other social networks.”
“Gab took swift and proactive action to contact law enforcement immediately. We first backed up all user data from the account and then proceeded to suspend the account. We then contacted the FBI and made them aware of this account and the user data in our possession. We are ready and willing to work with law enforcement to see to it that justice is served.”
“We have nothing but love for all people and freedom. We have consistently disavowed all violence. Free speech is crucial for the prevention of violence. If people can not express themselves through words, they will do so through violence. No one wants that. No one.”
Torba and Gab then took to Twitter en masse to blast critics, big tech, liberals, the mainstream media and anyone who questioned its motives saying it’s simply a place for free speech and that social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook shoulder equal finger-pointing as extremsist can be found on their sites as well. That said, Bowers, and a significant number of Gab members have a safe space where they can say what they want even if it’s racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and xenophobic.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups (Gab says the SPLJ itself is a hate group) found that “in the 19 days before Bowers carried out his act of mass murder, he posted or reposted memes and comments at least 68 times (on Gab). He was clearly obsessed with Jews…he engaged with numerous antisemitic conspiracy theories that have long been in circulation among neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”
So while Gab has been cooperating with federal agents and handing over all its information no Bowers, it’s the actions leading up to the attack, the opportunity Bowers had to share his hatred and possible his plans on the site that are being scrutinize.
3. Saturday, After the Synagogue Mass Shooting, PayPal Pulled the Plug. Then GoDaddy, Shopify, Medium, Joyent & Stripe. Microsoft Did The Same in August
Paypal jumped ship. Apple and Google both declined to make its app available as the site violated both tech behemoths’ TOS on hate speech. But losing PayPal cuts into the bottom line: revenue. Some said forget PayPal, it’s all about crypto.
And Gab had its site removed by Microsoft in August for anti-Semitic content.
Torba said at the time Microsoft gave Gab 48 hours to remove two posts or be shuttered. The alternative site includes far-right extremism and violent white nationalistic rhetoric and propaganda, which the First Amendment protects, Torba and Gab users argue.
Indeed, previous reports on Gab and its denizens led to a torrent of complaints to this reporter to make sure to frame the site as a place where people can speak freely. And indeed they do. It’s what some say that many see as hate speech and often, incitement.
4. Disturbing Anti-Semitic Content in Part Was at the Root of Some Big Tech Moves to Ban Gab
Be forewarned that the posts, shared by the neo-Nazi and white nationalist extremist Patrick Little, who says the Holocaust never happened and seeks Jewish genocide, on the Gab website were especially vile and triggering. Even some Gab users admit that, though argue he should be allowed to say what he wants.
Little, who had a failed Congressional bid against Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstien, is from California but is looking to set up in Idaho where he think’s he’ll find more like-minded kin: “This area has a reputation as a home to people with the moral courage to recognize the consequences of diversity.”
There is no room for doubt about Little’s deep-seated antisemitism. Little posted to Gab this past summer.
5. Gab & Torba Were Not Pleased With Coverage by Heavy in the Past
Gab founder, white supremacist Torba, a Trump supporter who claimed on Facebook to have “helped meme a President into office, cucks,” created Gab as a so-called free speech platform.
When Heavy described the site as being a haven for the alt-right, as reported by Slate, neo-Nazi’s as reported by Newsweek, white supremacists, as reported by Vice, anti-Semites, as reported by Newsweek, and the like, Torba tweeted this reporter, who he described as a “sophist piece of trash.” The story was from April about white nationalist and anti-Semite Paul Nehlen, a previous Gab member, banned from the site, and failed Senate candidate from Wisconsin (he hoped to unseat Speaker Paul Ryan). Moments after the story was published, Torba demanded a “retraction.”
He did not get one; the story stands.
And Torba tweeted Sunday that this author is “disgusting” and “disturbed” for using his image adjacent to Bowers. Torba went on InfoWars Monday saying he and Alex Jones are “two of the most censored men on the internet.”
This is a developing story.