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Gab says social network will return despite ‘systematic’ purge from firms after synagogue shooting

October 30, 2018

Gab, a social networking service where mass-shooting suspect Robert Bowers allegedly posted anti-Semitic comments prior to Saturday’s rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue, plans to persist with providing users a platform in spite of being “systematically removed” from the internet in the massacre’s aftermath, the company said Tuesday.

“Right now, our top priority is working with law enforcement. Once they have what they need, we will focus on getting Gab back online,” Gab said in a statement.

Launched in 2016, Gab boasted more than a half-million users prior to going offline following Saturday’s tragedy at the Tree Of Life Synagogue, where morning services were interrupted by a shooting spree that killed 11 people and injured several others.

Mr. Bowers, 46, was identified by authorities as the sole suspect in the shooting, and he was quickly linked to a Gab account that shared several anti-Semitic posts as recently as the morning of the slayings, shining a spotlight on the fringe service and subsequently pressuring Silicon Valley to severe ties.

Gab said its hosting provider, Joyent, and two major payment processors, Stripe and PayPal, parted ways with the social networking service by Saturday evening, and GoDaddy, the internet’s largest domain registrar, followed suit on Sunday, putting a severe snag in the platform’s ability to operate and ultimately driving it offline.

In a statement shared through its Twitter account Tuesday, Gab said it had secured a new hosting provider and planned to become operational “this weekend if not sooner,” albeit in spite of suffering another setback in the form of the platform’s chief technology officer, Ekrem Bykkaya, abruptly quitting amid the commotion.

“The attacks from the American press have been relentless for two years now and have taken a toll on me personally,” said Mr. Bykkaya.

Gab’s “remaining engineering team is working on getting the site back up as soon as possible and getting law enforcement what they need,” the company said Tuesday.

The social networking account linked to the accused synagogue shooter frequently shared anti-Semitic content, and their online profile claimed that “jews are the children of satan.”

“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” the user posted shortly before Saturday’s shooting.

GoDaddy ejected Gab after discovering “numerous instances of content on the site that both promotes and encourages violence against people,” and PayPal said it was in the process of canceling Gab’s account before the shooting occurred, citing a review on users involved in “perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance,” representatives told reporters.

Additional companies that have punted Gab from their platforms in light of the suspected shooter’s account emerging including blogging serving Medium and digital storefront provider Shopify, among others, recalling a similarly widespread reaction from Silicon Valley against anti-Semitic sites including Stormfront and The Daily Stormer in the aftermath of the the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a demonstrator was killed while protesting neo-Nazis.

Stormfront and The Daily Stormer were both widely banned on the heels of “Unite the Right” culminating in the death of the counterprotester, Heather Heyer, but both sites eventually resurfaced and remain today.

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