A website that hosted anti-Semitic posts apparently authored by the man who allegedly killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday said it was being forced offline following the attack.
Gab.com, which is popular with white nationalists and members of the so-called alt-right, said its hosting provider Joyent would be suspending its services as of Monday morning, while PayPal has also reportedly banned the site.
“Gab will likely be down for weeks because of this,” the site, which advertises itself as a “social network that champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online,” said on its Twitter account early Sunday.
“We will continue to fight for free expression and individual liberty online for all people. Big tech can not stop us. The mainstream media can not stop us. The People will defend freedom against tyranny as they always have and always will,” it tweeted.
It later said it was “back online.”
We are back online. We spent the past hour backing up everything in light of our hosting provider pulling service on Monday. We have had many engineers and hosting providers reaching out to help. Please pray and focus on the families and victims.
— Gab.com???? (@getongab) October 28, 2018
Gab had earlier released a statement saying it had “zero tolerance” for violence or terrorism and was “saddened and disgusted by the news” from Pittsburgh, where six people were also injured in the Saturday morning shooting.
Gab said in a post that after learning of the attack, it had matched the name of the alleged shooter — Robert Bowers — to one of its account holders.
It then took down the Bowers account and immediately contacted the FBI, adding: “We will do everything in our power to work with law enforcement to see that justice is served.”
Gab has come in for growing criticism since its founding in August 2016 with the promise to never censor content.
That promise has led far-right activists squeezed out of Twitter and other social media websites cracking down on hate speech to flock to the new platform, transforming it into a safe haven for the “alt-right” movement dominated by white supremacists.
One prominent “Gabber,” Richard Spencer, heads the white supremacist National Policy Institute, whose account was suspended on Twitter.
Headquartered in the Caribbean island Anguilla, Gab is “bootstrapped,” or self-financed, with some donations from the “Gab community.”
Despite its user base, Gab denies having a political agenda.
“Gab is for everyone and our mission is to challenge censorship on a global scale,” according to spokesman Utsav Sanduja.
“Whether it is from authoritarian governments persecuting their own people, politically incorrect citizens engaging in peaceful and civil discourse or whistleblowers in establishment institutions seeking a safe refuge, Gab will always be there for them and the people.”
Although the platform’s terms prohibit calls for violence or “terrorism,” many messages on the site are overtly racist or anti-Semitic.
That reflects the belief of Gab’s founders “that free speech is a fundamental right, one that is absolute and cannot be vitiated in any way,” Sanduja said.
That means “a free exchange of ideas” on the site “without proscription.”
Instead of censoring content, Gab enables its users to filter their news feeds by blocking messages with certain keywords or from specific users.