Social Media Platform ‘GAB’ Blamed for Pittsburgh Synagogue Mass Shooting
Gab, called “Twitter for racists”, blamed for synagogue shooting, kicked off PayPal
NEW YORK; Oct 27, 2018: Gab, a mostly conservative social media platform used by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, is being blamed for enabling the mass killing of Jewish Americans.
The suspect was active on the right-wing Twitter and Facebook alternative that is a refuge for anti-semites, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and and other “alt-right” figures.
The alleged gunman who reportedly shouted “all Jews must die” before opening fire in the Tree of Life synagogue appears to have regularly posted antisemitic conspiracy theories on the ultra conservative social media site, including accusing Jewish people of trying to bring “evil” Muslims into the United States.
Gab has been kicked off PayPal and released an apologetic statement for the shooter’s anti-Semitic and ani-Muslim rants.
On Saturday morning, armed with an assault rifle and at least 3 handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a crowded Pittsburgh synagogue, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding 4 police officers and 2 others.
The suspect in the attack, identified as Robert Bowers, 46, is in custody charged with 29 counts relating to federal hate crimes laws.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries.”
Former President Barack OBama said, “We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh. All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently. And we have to stop making it so easy for those who want to harm the innocent to get their hands on a gun.”
The neighborhood where mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue took place is well-known in Pittsburgh as a center of Jewish culture.
Gab said it provided Bowers’ used data to the FBI immediately when it heard of his identity, archiving his account before suspending it.
The suspect’s account suggested white Americans and “Western Civilization” were “headed towards certain extinction”, and that Jewish and Muslim people were to blame.
The final post read: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Gab bills itself as the “home of free speech online” and makes it a point to keep content censorship to an absolute minimum. As a result, it has become a haven for those banned by Twitter and Facebook for violating their stringent hate speech rules. Overall, its users range from prominent conservatives like Ann Coulter and Mike Cernovich, to controversial figures like Milo Yiannopolous.
As eyes turned to Gab in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, it issued a public statement reminding critics that while the site may be more permissive than Twitter or Facebook, it does have rules, which expressly prohibit illegal or violence-inciting content – and posit that all kinds of speech are protected by the First Amendment.
Gab was founded by Andrew Torba in August 2016, after the rightwing activist Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter for encouraging the online abuse of a black Hollywood actor.
The site has been called “Twitter for racists”.
Gab bragged on Twitter that it had “been getting 1 million hits an hour all day” after being suspended by Paypal.
In response to Paypal’s public comments, Gab responded : “‘Hate’ is subjective.”
It was banned from the Google Play app store last year, for violating the company’s hate speech policy.
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