Gab, the ‘Free Speech’ Network Used by Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect, Has Been Taken Offline
Following revelations that Robert Bowers, the suspected shooter in Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, used Gab to share anti-Semitic sentiments and conspiracy theories, the platform has been taken offline.
As of Monday morning, a message appears on the platform’s website, claiming that it is “under attack” and that it would be “inaccessible for a period of time.”
The suspension follows news over the weekend that a number of tech platforms, including Stripe, PayPal, and cloud hosting company Joyent suspended the network. Gab addressed this in its statement, noting that it had been “systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.”
It went on to claim that it had been “smeared by the mainstream media for defending free expression and individual liberty for all people and for working with law enforcement to ensure that justice is served for the horrible atrocity committed in Pittsburgh.”
“Gab will continue to fight for the fundamental human right to speak freely,” it continued, and said that it would be offline while it “transitions to a new hosting provider.”
The platform, which bills itself as a “free speech social network,” has long been criticized for providing a platform for anti-Semitism and white nationalism. This scrutiny has reached a fever pitch since it emerged that it was favored by Bowers to share his own anti-Semitic views in the lead up to Saturday’s shooting.
Before reportedly entering the Tree of Life synagogue, Bowers wrote on Gab, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS is the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees.
For his part, Gab CEO and founder Andrew Torba defended the site and its decision not to remove Bowers’ post. Speaking to NPR, Torba said, “Do you see a direct threat in there? Because I don’t. What would you expect us to do with a post like that? You want us to just censor anybody who says the phrase ‘I’m going in’? Because that’s just absurd.”
“Here’s the thing,” he added. “The answer to bad speech, or hate speech, however you want to define that, is more speech. And it always will be.”
Gab was founded about two years ago, according to CNN, and has approximately 800,000 users.