Gab.com, the self-described “free speech social media platform” popular with alt-right activists and white nationalists, has gone offline after facing widespread backlash in the aftermath of Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Several companies that had provided Gab with crucial services to keep the site running ― including its domain provider ― have cut ties with the platform, forcing it to go temporarily offline. Gab, however, has vowed to get the site back up and running as soon as possible.
The suspected gunman in the synagogue attack, Robert Bowers, had posted brazenly racist and anti-Semitic views on Gab prior to the rampage, thereby thrusting the site into the national spotlight.
Gab is an online gathering place favored by far-right users whose offensive and bigoted comments would get them kicked off of other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Bowers, who joined Gab in January, had posted messages on the site referring to Jews as an “infestation” and “the children of Satan.”
On Saturday morning, just moments before 11 people were shot dead at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Bowers had denounced the Jewish nonprofit group HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, in a Gab post.
“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,” the post read.
Since the shooting, several companies have distanced themselves from Gab. The platform’s domain provider, GoDaddy, said on Sunday that it had informed the site that it had “24 hours to move the domain to another registrar.”
“They have violated our terms of service,” GoDaddy told Mashable in a statement. “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.”
Payments websites PayPal and Stripe, as well as Gab’s hosting service Joyent, have also told the platform to take its business elsewhere, Reuters reported.
Gab said on Twitter that it was “under attack.”
“We have been systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors,” the site said — adding that it was transitioning to a new hosting provider, though it did not say who the new web host was.
Gab said it was “working around the clock” to get the platform back online. “FREE SPEECH WILL ALWAYS WIN,” the site declared in a Sunday tweet.
Founded in 2016 by pro-Trump conservative Andrew Torba, Gab describes itself as a defender of “individual liberty and free expression online.”
As NPR has noted, the site allows users to basically post “whatever they want, as long as it’s legal.” That’s led to message boards full of “anti-Semitism, racism, Nazism and sexism,” and a plethora of conspiracy theories.
Several prominent figures on the far-right are users of the site, including right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; Andrew Anglin, the founder of neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer; and radio show host Alex Jones.