gab.com is an alternative social network, set up and launched in 2016. It’s founder, Andrew Torba, stated he wanted to create a home for free speech, and counter what he perceived as “liberal bias” on other platforms, such as twitter and facebook.
Two days ago, their website was taken down. This was in response to being blocked by PayPal, and then having their server space taken away by their hosting service. gab’s founder posted this statement on their stripped-down website.
Why did this happen?
Because Robert Bowers, the alleged gunman at the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, had a gab account and posted some things about “the jews” on it.
Is it right, or sensible to punish a platform for the (alleged) actions of ONE user out of 100,000s? And is that really what’s going on?
Robert Bowers also had a Twitter account. And a Facebook page. Neither of these platforms has faced punishment, or censure, from any quarter.
Cesar Sayoc – the alleged MAGABomber – also had a twitter account and allegedly sent threatening messages to some public figures on it. Again, Twitter has not been blocked by PayPal.
In fact, Twitter and Facebook – though occasionally criticised for “not doing enough to combat hate”, have never been blocked, or threatened in any way. Even though twitter hosted countless pro-ISIS accounts, regularly cited in the media.
So clearly, it can be reasoned, PayPal et al are not only responding to the alleged statements of Robert Bowers. There is a deeper agenda at work.
In fact, this isn’t the first time larger internet companies have tried to stymie gab’s existence. When they were first launched, in 2016, Apple denied them a place in their app store because they allegedly allowed pornography to be posted. When gab installed a filter to block people posting pornography, Apple again denied them access to the app store, this time for breaching their “hate speech” regulations. Google Play did the same in 2017 (reminder – Google allowed ISIS to release their own app on their marketplace).
Early this year a cross-university study conducted on gab (and other “alt-right” sites) found that gab.com used “free speech as shield to protect their “alt-right” views”. (I’m not sure what, if anything, that sentence really means. Surely free speech is a shield protecting all speech? Isn’t that the point?)
In April this year VICE magazine ran an article headlined “Gab Is the Alt-Right Social Network Racists Are Moving to”. It was resoundingly negative about the site, painting it as nothing but a home for racism and “conspiracy theorists”, despite the owner’s protestations that gab is all about free speech, and that anyone is free to join.
Logically, the emergence of networks like gab was inevitable. The internet has always been that way, you shut down one hallway and four more are forced open. Look at Piratebay, notionally banned, yet available through a million different proxies that spring up faster than governments can shut them down.
Social media has undergone unprecedented purges this year. Alex Jones was banned across virtually every mainstream platform. Hundreds of facebook pages and twitter accounts were shut down on spurious grounds – allegations of being “Kremlin backed” or “Iran bots” fly around, without any supporting evidence ever being released to the public. This summer, twitter blocked millions of “fake accounts” (we covered that here).
These actions aren’t independent, either. Alex Jones was banned from multiple platforms, all within 24 hours. Just earlier this month, Facebook unpublished over 800 pages, whilst twitter blocked the accounts of the same pages…all on the same day. Clearly, the companies are either co-ordinating with each other (possibly in breach of anti-trust laws), or are receiving directions from the same source – almost certainly the government.
In that climate, new platforms were always going to emerge. It’s the classic “Well then I’m gonna build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers” situation.
YouTube is increasingly corporate, controlled and fake. Demonetising user videos and adding more and more advertisements…so dtube and bitchute open. Twitter censors your free-speech, so we’ll start up a platform where you can say what you want.
Twitter and Facebook both saw their stock-prices tumble as a result of their respective “purges”. So, is the anti-gab movement simply a case of mega-corporations protecting their monopoly by shutting down a budding rival? Is this all just about control of the market and money?
Unfortunately, it seems not. Like the vast majority of media roll-outs, it seems this is a convergence of interests – financial on the one hand, and political on the other.
The push to ban the “alt-right” – or, the even broader term – “hate speech” has been on-going for several years now. It will inevitably pick up in the wake of the events of this week.
Within hours, predictable voices were discussing the “necessary limitations on free speech”:
The #Pittsburgh synagogue terror attack is a reminder of the necessary limits of free speech. Hate speech leads to acts of hatred.
— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 28, 2018
Today, CNN ran this piece: “Big Tech made the social media mess. It has to fix it”.
Paul Mason, writing in the New Statesman, argued that YouTube needs to censor all the “alt-right” on their platform.
It’s a two-step process – having first established the need to “limit” hate speech, we can then move on to defining what “hate speech” really means.
They’ve started on that already. Criticising George Soros is “anti-semitic” now. As is the term “neocons”:
Speaking of anti-Semitic dog whistles. It's not only "globalists" and "George Soros." "Neocon" is often used the same way–by haters on both the left and the right. https://t.co/DWci2PCZES
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) October 29, 2018
What else will be deemed hate speech? What does “hate speech” really mean? The simple answer to that is: Whatever they want it to mean.
It seems like there’s a purge coming, you can feel it in the wind. A purge motivated by the greed of multinational companies wielding power that rivals nations, and fuelled by the fascistic need of the “powers-that-shouldn’t-be” to limit and control our existence…just because they can.
It is both authoritarian power grab, and a manifestation of corporate greed. It’s amazing how often those two things come together.