Gab, Social Network and Lightning Rod for Controversy, Is Back Online

November 5, 2018, 5:26 PM UTC

Gab, the controversial social network used by the man accused of killing 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, is back online after its original Web hosting provider cut ties with the company.

Gab, which has been criticized for welcoming users with far-right political leanings who were banned from other social networks, was dropped by GoDaddy two days after the shooting, when it was revealed suspect Robert Bowers used the service to post anti-Semitic messages.

That changed on Saturday when domain service Epik welcomed Gab. Epik’s founder, Rob Monster, said he believed the site was a victim of “digital censorship.”

“Although I did not take the decision lightly to accept this domain registration, I look forward to partnering with a young, and once brash, CEO who is courageously doing something that looks useful,” Monster wrote in an essay published to his company’s website. “While there are consequences to actions, there is also the proverbial risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. My hope, for all of our sakes, is that treads wisely, using its liberty for the betterment of most, and the enlightenment of all.”

Godaddy was hardly the only company to cut ties with Gab. Payment processors Stripe and PayPal and cloud hosting company Joyent also suspended the network. Apple and Google had already prevented Gab from distributing its app in their app stores. Microsoft had threatened to stop hosting Gab’s website over anti-Semitic posts this summer.

Critics argue the site, which unlike Facebook or Twitter does not use advertisements to make money, is a haven for racists. Gab insists that’s a mischaracterization.

“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 now-deleted Medium post after the shooting.

The company, however, did not mince words in social media posts published after its return.

Gab says it is politically neutral and committed to free speech, even if its recent statements put it squarely at odds with members of the press, whose own freedoms share space in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Gab has raised more than $1 million in funding; it ramped up fundraising efforts after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.

Gab’s users include many figures of the so-called alt-right, such as Milo Yiannopolous, the former Breitbart writer who was banned from Twitter in 2016 for inciting harassment, and Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, which was effectively shut down last year when web companies suspended its domain registration.