goes down in wake of Pittsburgh shooting, after far-right social network is dropped by tech companies

Synagogue killing was the deadliest attack on Jewish community in history of the US

Andrew Griffin
Monday 29 October 2018 10:31 GMT
Names of Pittsburgh shooting victims released, a website that carried violently anti-Semitic messages just before the Pittsburgh shooting, has been taken offline.

The company has been banned by its hosting provider, GoDaddy, meaning that it no longer works. In its place is a holding message claiming the site is "under attack".

"As we transition to a new hosting provider Gab will be inaccessible for a period of time," the message reads. "We are working around the clock to get back online. Thank you and remember to speak freely."

It was just the latest in a series of companies to drop the website, which has been linked to the far-right. Payment companies such as PayPal and Stripe also took the decision to stop offering services to Gab.

The official Gab account continues to be active on Twitter. There, it has spent hours attacking the decision to take the site down, and attempting to push a conspiracy theory that there is a conspiracy by "Big Tech" to remove it from the internet.

It also re-posted the message that it had displayed on its website, where it said the network was "under attack".

The outage came after GoDaddy said that it had told it had "24 hours to move the domain to another registrar", according to a spokesperson. The ban came because the site had violated its terms of service and hosted content that "promotes and encourages violence against people", it said.

Gab has been active for some time and has been repeatedly criticised for allowing violent and far-right content on its platform. But the latest outage comes after it was thrust in the mainstream when it was found to have been used by the suspect in the Pittsburgh shooting, where 11 people died in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

Founded in 2016 by conservative Andrew Torba, Gab bills itself as the "free speech" alternative to Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc and has become a popular place to post content unwelcome or prohibited on other platforms.

Notable users include right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, as well as media personalities Alex Jones and Carl Benjamin.

Utsav Sanduja, Gab's former chief operating officer, said the company and its mission will survive "guilt by association" and could do more fundraising through cryptocurrencies in order to bypass tech companies.

"We created Gab for the purpose of letting off steam not to kill. That was not our intention," he said.

In earlier statements, the website said it was cooperating with law enforcement authorities and described the moves by PayPal and others as acts of "direct collusion between big tech giants." It also called on U.S. President Donald Trump to act.

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On Sunday, Gab's forum lit up with comments about the Pittsburgh attack.

One user celebrated Gab being banned by PayPal while another user responded, "You are going to get shot at ur local synagogue." Another posted, "I WAS RIGHT, THEY FAKED THE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING."

Additional reporting by Reuters

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