Gab is a social media website created by CEO Andrew Torba. If you use Twitter, you may have heard of Gab. It is the website disgruntled Twitter users tweet about whenever Twitter suspends accounts that break the Twitter rules. The New York Times describes Gab as “an extremist-friendly site”.
USA Today reported that Robert Bowers had been identified as the suspect in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Eleven people died and several others were wounded.
The Verge reported that Robert Bower was not only on Gab, but also had posted a history of anti-Semitic speech on it. In the same article, The Verge posted a statement from a spokesman from PayPay, who confirmed that PayPal had banned Gab, and citing hate speech as the reason for the ban. The statement said:
“The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions. When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.”
In another article, The Verge posted a statement from GoDaddy:
“We have informed Gab.com that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service. In response to complaints received over the weekend, GoDaddy investigated and discovered numerous instances of content on the site that both promotes and encourages violence against people”.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Medium has suspended Gab’s account on its platform. Yesterday, Gab had posted a “Statement On The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting”. Today, that same link goes to a Medium page that says “This page is unavailable”.
Freedom of speech means that the government cannot throw you in jail because it didn’t like something you said. Private companies are allowed to stop providing service to users who break the company’s rules. It is also worth noting that freedom of speech does not come with protections against facing the consequences of what you choose to say – or, in Gab’s case – host.