Gab: Inside the social media network used by the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter

Gab

Monday, October 29, 2018

Social media platform Gab, is under scrutiny after it emerged the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, used it to post antisemitic conspiracy theories. But what is Gab, and who else uses it?

Forty-six-year-old Bowers, who was a paying member of the social networking service, has been charged with the murder of 11 people after allegedly opening fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He was reportedly wielding an assault rifle and three handguns at the time of the attack.

Posts by Bowers uncovered on Gab show a host of antisemitic posts, including one accusing the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society charity of bringing in "invaders that kill our people".

Shortly before the attack, suspected gunman Bowers posted "Screw your optics, I’m going in" on his account. 

His profile has now been deleted by the site.

 

What is Gab?

Co-founder and CEO of Gab, Andrew Torba, releases a statement on the Pittsburgh shooting

The social networking service was founded by Donald Trump supporter Andrew Torba in August 2016 as an alternative to Twitter, and prides itself on promoting "free speech".

The only rules governing the site are that users cannot sell drugs or weapons, post spam, post revenge porn, post credible threats or dox people, which is the online practice of searching for and publishing private or identifying information about an individual, typically with malicious intent.

The site resembles Twitter, with reply and repost functions, as well as an upvoting system so users can promote or demote posts. Posts are capped at 300 characters.

The site was dubbed "Twitter for racists" by Vice News, and has also been described as a haven for antisemites and neo-Nazis.

According to Gab, it has 800,000 users worldwide.

 

Who uses it?

Milo Yiannopoulos. Image: Getty

Provocative political commentator, public speaker and self-professed "supervillain", Milo Yiannopoulos, goes by the username of @m on the site.

Yiannopolous, who was formerly senior editor of Breitbart News, joined Gab in October 2016.

He has been suspended from Twitter multiple times for violating its terms of service, and was permanently suspended from the platform after claims he played a part in encouraging online harassment of Ghostbusters actress, Leslie Jones.

Former model and reality TV star Tila Tequila is a user of Gab.

Tequila was banned from Twitter after posting racial slurs and a photo of herself and two other individuals performing a Nazi salute.

The founder of news website Infowars.com and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, is also a member of the social networking site.

He was previously banned from Facebook for "repeated violations of community standards" and also had one of his podcasts removed by Spotify for containing "hate content".

 

Site shut down

A statement on Gab.com's homepage

The site has been temporarily shut down following the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting.

GoDaddy, who host the domain Gab.com, gave the service 24 hours to find a new domain host.

Other stakeholders including payment processors PayPal have also distanced themselves from the site.

In a statement displayed on its homepage, Gab said it had now become a "nationally recognised brand as the home of free speech", and would "exercise every possible avenue" to keep the site online.

Torba has repeatedly defended the site's policies in the aftermath of the shooting.

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