Free-speech social media platform Gab is back online following recent attempts to blacklist the site by a number of hosting and domain providers.
Recently, Gab.com, the free speech platform competing with the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe, was taken offline following hosting provider Joyent giving them just 48 hours to find a new host. While searching for a new host, Gab’s domain registrar, GoDaddy, contacted the company to inform them that they had allegedly discovered content on the social media platform which “promoted and encouraged violence.” The warning noted that Gab must immediately transfer their domain registrar services to another provider or face the suspension of their domain, meaning Gab.com would not direct to their website wherever it is hosted, showing users an error message.
Payment processing services PayPal and Stripe also informed Gab that they would no longer be allowing them to use their services. “When a site is allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action,” PayPal spokesman Justin Higgs said in a statement to CNBC. All of this appeared to be a reaction to the fact that Robert Bowers, the suspect behind the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, had an account on Gab.com.
Now, the website is back online and accepting new members despite the multiple attempts to shut the site down for good by hosting providers, domain providers, and payment processors. Gab CEO Andrew Torba commented on the website’s new founded online space stating:
After being offline for nearly a week, we are proud to announce that Gab.com is back online. We will continue to build the home of free speech and remain vigilant in the enforcement of our existing user guidelines. We are taking a proactive approach to detecting and removing any threats of violence and doxxing, which we have always had a zero tolerance policy for.
Since returning earlier this week, Gab has seen record growth and usage, adding 15,000 new users in the first few hours of being back online and adding thousands more by the day. The partnership with our new domain registrar, Epik.com, is a big reason we are back online. We encourage anyone who has domains on other providers, such as GoDaddy, to switch and support Epik.com. We need to come together and help those who help us defend free expression online.
Robert Monster, the CEO of Epik.com, published a blog post which clarified why the domain registrar chose to allow Gab to user their services, in the post Monster states:
Although, I did not take the decision lightly to accept this domain registration, I look forward to partnering with a young, and once brash, CEO who is courageously doing something that looks useful. As I reflect on my own journey as a truth-seeking tech entrepreneur, I have no doubt that Andrew will continue to develop not only as tech entrepreneur but also as a responsible steward — one that can balance bravado with diplomacy and who tempers courage with humility.
These days there are many kinds of online content that some people find objectionable. When it comes to publishing content, online or offline, there is an interplay between free will and personal responsibility. Specific to Gab, the decision to not only tolerate but to welcome competing views, does come with a responsibility to take action when free will is exhibited without personal responsibility. This was famously illustrated in the opinion rendered by Supreme Court in Watt vs. United States (1969) where threats of violence was deemed unlawful.
Gab has regularly faced blacklisting, particularly from those in the tech industry such as Apple and Google. Breitbart News reported in August of 2017 that the Gab app for Android phones was banned from the official Google Play store, in December of 2016 Apple rejected the app from their app store. Despite this, Gab continued to grow in popularity, particularly following the suspension of conservative figures from other social media platforms, Gab gained approximately 16,000 new users after InfoWars host Alex Jones was banned from a number of social media platforms.
Gab.com is online and accepting new members.