What is Gab? The Alt-Right Social Network Linked to Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Goes Dark

By Alex Heath

Gab, an online haven for white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the alt-right, is facing an increasingly uncertain future.

Over the weekend, Gab was linked to Robert Bowers, who is accused of open-firing in a Pittsburgh, Pa., synagogue, killing 11 people and wounding six others. Bowers had a verified account on Gab and used the social network to post hateful, anti-Semitic messages up until the morning of the shooting. Federal officials have charged him with 29 criminal counts, which include committing a hate crime and using a firearm to commit murder.

On Gab, Bowers was one of the roughly 800,000 people who used the platform as a so-called “free speech” alternative to larger social networks like Facebook ($FB) and Twitter ($TWTR). But thanks to the vile posts by Bowers on Gab, the platform has been taken offline by its web hosting and domain providers for violating their terms of service.

Both GoDaddy and web hosting provider Joyent banned Gab on Saturday, shortly after the shooting occurred and Bowers’s account surfaced in the media. Just hours before the shooting, Bowers had posted a threatening send-off message on Gab that read: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Gab’s PayPal ($PYPL) and Stripe accounts were also banned. As of Monday, a message on Gab.com said that the service is transitioning to a new hosting provider and working “around the clock to get Gab.com back online.”

“Gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist,” the statement said. “Because of the data we provided, they now have plenty of evidence for their case.”

Gab was created in 2016 by CEO Andrew Torba as an answer to what Torba called “the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly.” The service quickly turned into a safe space for provocateurs of the so-called alt-right movement who were banned from other platforms, like ex-Breitbart staffer Milo Yiannopoulos and “InfoWars” founder Alex Jones.

Now Gab’s future is murky as it looks for a cloud service and domain provider willing to host the kind of vitriolic content that was posted by Bowers. Gab’s CEO has remained firm that the service won’t be sidelined.

On Monday, Gab’s stripped website featured only a message from Torba that said the company had “been no-platformed by essential internet infrastructure providers at every level.”

“We are the most censored, smeared, and no-platformed startup in history, which means we are a threat to the media and to the Silicon Valley Oligarchy,” the statement continued. “Gab isn’t going anywhere.”

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