Social media site Gab, which bills itself as a platform for "free speech," is facing an existential threat after virtually all its internet hosting partners have cut off its service in the wake of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue mass murder on Saturday. As the company protested its image as a haven for online racists and anarchists, a series of anti-Semitic tweets from its verified account resurfaced.
What's the story?
Gab was created by programmers who were dissatisfied with what they perceived to be excessive censorship by social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. The platform bills itself as a haven for free speech, but its critics contend that it is instead a haven for white nationalists, anarchists, and porn fetishists.
According to Gab, the social media site will ban users who threaten violence, but do not ban anyone for holding any viewpoint, no matter how repulsive.
Gab came under the microscope when it was revealed that the suspect who has been accused of perpetrating Saturday's mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was a frequent user of the platform and that he stated his intent to commit acts of violence against Jews shortly before his killing spree began.
As a result of the public furor, Gab's internet partners began to disassociate themselves from the site and cut off access over the weekend. Gab's web hosting company Joyent first notified Gab that they were terminating its agreement with Gab, giving them 24 hours to download its data.
Domain host GoDaddy next notified Gab that it was shutting off its domain due to a breach of the terms of service. Payment partners PayPal and Stripe also notified Gab over the weekend that Gab would no longer be allowed to accept payments through these partners.
After its service was shut down on Monday, Gab issued a defiant statement, stating that social media site was cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation of the Pittsburgh suspect's statement, and claiming that it was the victim of a coordinated smear campaign.
What happened next?
Meanwhile, as the pile on continued, Mediaite reported on a number of anti-Semitic tweets that had been sent by Gab's verified Twitter account in the past but that have subsequently been taken down.
In one of the tweets, Gab's verified account responded to criticism from HillReporter editor Ed Krassenstein by saying, "Dude named 'Krassenstein' doesn't support free speech. Imagine my shock."
Other tweets screen captured by Mediaite praised a Twitter user who said, "There's no such thing as anti-Semitism, only Jewish fragility," and posted without context a screen capture of Revelation 3:9, a Bible verse that is frequently misquoted by anti-Semites in support of the proposition that Jews lie.
In a twist of irony, Krassenstein claims that Gab banned his account before it shut down in response to his criticism of the platform on Twitter.
It is unclear when or if Gab might be able to return online, or how it will replace the loss of vital service providers.