Tech Platforms Suspend Gab in Wake of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
Social network Gab is popular with the alt-right—and it was popular with Robert Bowers, the suspect in Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
In the wake of the hate crime that left 11 dead, tech platforms have started to suspend Gab from their services. Payment processing platforms Stripe and PayPal and cloud hosting company Joyent suspended the network, Gab posted on Twitter.
Before the shooting, Apple and Google had already prevented Gab from distributing its app in their app stores, and Microsoft had threatened to stop hosting Gab’s website over anti-Semitic posts this summer, The Verge reported.
“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,” Gab wrote in a Medium post Saturday.
Bowers, who targeted the Tree of Life synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood Squirrel Hill, told law enforcement after his arrest that he wanted all Jews to die, CNN reported, and that “they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people.”
He had posted similar sentiments on his Gab account, which he paid to have verified. He posted conspiracy theories about liberal billionaire George Soros, praised Hitler, used hate speech, and posted neo-Nazi memes. He repeatedly posted a conspiracy theory about the nonprofit Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helps refugees, and said the organization was bringing in “invaders in that kill our people,” the Daily Beast reported.
Right before he entered the synagogue Saturday, he wrote, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Bowers was charged with 29 criminal counts: 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault, 13 counts of ethnic intimidation, obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, and using a firearm to commit murder.
The victims of the shooting, members of three congregations that worshipped at the synagogue, ranged in age from 54 to 97. Law enforcement named the victims Sunday as: Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59 and David Rosenthal, 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.
Many had gathered at the synagogue for a bris on Saturday, the ceremony held to mark a child’s birth.
Gab says it cooperated completely with law enforcement, backed up Bowers’s account’s data, and suspended the account.
The network has since been advocating on Twitter against its suspension from other tech platforms, comparing its devotion to all kinds of free speech—no matter how vile—to hate speech that appears on Twitter and disturbing videos that have been broadcast on Facebook Live.
Meanwhile, PayPal confirmed its suspension of Gab and said it had been “in the process of canceling the site’s account before the tragic events occurred.”
“The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions,” PayPal said in a statement to Fortune. “When a site is allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.”
A spokesman for Stripe said the company does not comment on individual users of its service. Joyent did not immediately respond to request for comment.