Pittsburgh Shooting Puts Focus on Gab Social Site

'Free speech' site attracted far-right
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2018 5:22 AM CDT
Pittsburgh Shooting Puts Focus on Gab Social Site
This image shows a portion of an archived webpage from the social media website Gab, with a Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 posting by Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue has put the spotlight on Gab, a social media site that calls itself a haven for free speech, but has attracted numerous white supremacists and others driven from sites like Facebook and Twitter by crackdowns on hate speech. Shooting suspect Robert Bowers was a frequent Gab user, and had a profile that read "jews are the children of satan," the Washington Post reports. His anti-Semitic rants on the site continued until moments before the attack, when he wrote, "Screw your optics, I'm going in." Gab co-founder and CEO Andrew Torba, however, a conservative and a leader of the "alt-tech movement," says the site was designed to "step up and defend free speech" for all who joined and has denied that it seeks to attract far-right extremists.

After Saturday's mass shooting, Gab posted a message saying it "unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence," NPR reports. Gab said it had deleted the Bowers account and was fully cooperating with law enforcement. The site was still dropped by web host Joyent and payment processors PayPal and Stripe, reports Deadline. "We have been smeared by the mainstream media for defending free expression and individual liberty for all people," the Gab homepage said. It said it would be inaccessible for a period of time, but "was working around the clock" to restore the site with a new host. (Saturday's attack is believed to be the deadliest ever on US Jews.)

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