Far-right social network Gab struggles after Pittsburgh attack | News | DW | 28.10.2018
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Far-right social network Gab struggles after Pittsburgh attack

A man who killed 11 people in a synagogue was a frequent user of the social media site Gab, which he used to post anti-Semitic messages. Companies such as PayPal have begun banning the site from using their services.

Gab, the social media site used by Pittsburgh mass murderer Robert Bowers was struggling to stay online on Sunday after payment processors and its web host cut ties with the platform. Gab has long maintained that it is merely a promoter of free speech, however, it is mostly favored by the far-right due to its lack of censorship.

Gab vowed to remain online, saying it was "working around the clock" to find new means of support.

Bowers, 48, attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday during a baby naming ceremony. He killed 11 people, aged 59 to 97, and injured six others, including four police officers. Bower has been charged with dozens of crimes, including hate crimes.

Killer used Gab to spread anti-Semitism

On Gab, Bowers had posted several anti-Semitic rants and videos, including the phrase "Jews are the children of Satan."

He also posted about a Jewish refugee organization called the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, saying it "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."

Bowers' use of the site prompted PayPal and another payment website, Stripe Inc., to ban Gab from using their money-sending services. The site, which is free to use, relies on donations and some small charges for additional features.

It was also forced to seek a new web host after Joyent Inc. said it would no longer host the site. Its new host so far remains unknown.

"Working around the clock to see to it that Gab.com stays online," the company wrote on Twitter. "FREE SPEECH WILL ALWAYS WIN."

Gab: Site was not created to promote violence

Gab was founded in 2016 by Andrew Torba, who said at the time that he wanted to counter "the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly," i.e. Twitter and Facebook, which have rules against hate speech and incitement to violence.

Since then, Torba has denied creating a haven for neo-Nazis and the alt-right, but the company's logo is a frog, which is associated with the far-right in the United States, and has provided a platform for notable far-right conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.

Gab rejected being "guilty by association" with Bowers, adding "We created Gab for the purpose of letting off steam not to kill. That was not our intention."

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