In terms of size, the website called Gab is rather small; however, it has an intense user base of around 800,000. Founded by Andrew Torba in 2016, Gab’s philosophy is that users can post anything and everything, including hate speech, racist content, anti-Semitic content, and bigoted ideology without being sanctioned or thrown off the site. In fact, Gab is where many users banned from Twitter go to. Gab has said previously said that their “mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people.”
Gab has come under increased scrutiny after it was revealed that Robert Bowers, the alleged shooter that targeted the Pittsburgh-area synagogue, the Tree of Life, on Saturday posted on the site that he was intending to perpetuate an attack. Further, his profile on Gab shows that he was heavily involved in spreading and reading racist and anti-Semitic content. He also posted pictures of multiple guns along with physical and violent threats targeted at the Jewish community. It seems he was also a believer in the false conspiracy that a group of migrants, including women and children, moving towards the U.S were being helped by Jewish people, including George Soros, who recently had a bomb mailed to his residence. On Gab, Bowers repeatedly blamed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for bring what he called “invaders” into the county.
The consequence of allowing such hateful, violent content on their site has caught up with Gab. PayPal has announced that it will no longer allow Gab to use its services in order to manage donations. Following PayPal’s lead, the cloud hosting service Joyent and Stripe have also banned the site from using their services, and the publisher Medium has removed Gab’s posts. And GoDaddy, which has hosted Gab, has given the site 24 hours to move to a different hosting company.
Defending their decision to ban Gab, a spokesperson for PayPal stated, “When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.”
Gab has tried to defend itself in the wake of one of its users committing such a violent, anti-Semitic act after using their site to spread hate-filled content. In a tweet, the company says, “Words are not bullets. Social media posts have a body count of zero. The sole responsibility for today’s horrific actions lies with one person. We will do everything in our power to work with law enforcement to see that justice is served.”