In the wake of the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, Gab, a social media platform that prides itself on allowing free speech, has been receiving renewed attention.
According to the New York Times, hours before the attack, alleged gunman Robert Bowers used Gab to post, "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
Gab was created in 2016 as an alternative to other social media platforms. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which have begun to monitor hate speech more closely, Gab has billed itself as a place for unbridled, uncensored free speech. At the time of the platform’s launch, its creator, Andrew Torba, wrote that “political correctness has risen up at the expense of freedom of speech and has become a cancer on discourse and culture.”
The suspect’s connection with Gab has taken a toll on the platform. PayPal, Stripe, and cloud hosting company Joyent all suspended service with the site, according to screenshots of email exchanges posted by Gab on its Twitter account. As of Sunday afternoon, Gab appeared to have found a new hosting provider and is still live.
In a statement, Gab distanced itself from the suspect, writing that the platform “unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.” They also denied responsibility for the shooting.
“We refuse to be defined by the media’s narratives about Gab and our community,” the statement read. “Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people. Social media often brings out the best and the worst of humanity.”