Hours after it was revealed that Saturday's Tree of Life Synagogue shooting suspect was a user of social media network Gab.ai, PayPal severed all ties with the platform with no explanation.
The shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, posted anti-Semitic and anti-Trump rhetoric over Gab, which bills itself as the "home of free speech" due to the minimal censorship employed by the site. Shortly before the shooting, he posted a message to Gab which condemns the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which he wrote "likes to bring invaders in that kill our people," before writing: "Screw your optics, I'm going in."
Following the shooting, Gab quickly removed Bowers' account and sent all information to the FBI and DOJ. Torba then issued a full statement confirming the alleged attacker's presence on the site, and noting that Gab had taken immediate action - unlike other social media platforms.
Social media often brings out the best and the worst of humanity. From live streamed murders on Facebook, to threats of violence by bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. that went unaddressed by Twitter, and more. Criminals and criminal behavior exist on every social media platform.
Shortly after the attack, Gab was alerted to a user profile of the alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter. The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners. This person also had accounts on other social networks.
That apparently wasn't enough for PayPal (which, we would note, didn't sever ties with Facebook despite Bowers' presence on the site, or Instagram after it was revealed that Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz posted pictures of weapons to the network).
In a letter addressed to Gab CEO Andrew Torba, PayPal wrote: "We are hereby notifying you that we are terminating our relationship with your pursuant to PayPal's User Agreement. Under the PayPal User Agreement, PayPal, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to terminate your account for any reason and at any time upon notice to you."
Torba was ordered to remove "all references to PayPal."
Perhaps Torba was banned after he spoke ill of Big Tech:
If you are a terrorist the absolute worst place for you to be online is https://t.co/J3Rfto6fi3.— Gab.com🍂 (@getongab) October 27, 2018
We will work directly with law enforcement without hesitation, as was displayed today.
Can the same be said about Big Tech?
Gab's blacklisting has not gone unnoticed:
Gab is not a white supremacist site. It’s a free speech platform.— Cassandra 🦇 Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) October 27, 2018
“If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.” — Noam Chomsky https://t.co/FfAeOipdy3
The Pittsburgh terrorist has a Gab and facebook account.— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) October 27, 2018
- Gab immedietly deleted his account and issued a statement CONDEMNING it.
- Facebook have yet to issue a statement.
Yet @paypal have BANNED Gab "just because", but haven't banned facebook.
What's up? https://t.co/1aPY5vvleE
Others were happy to see Gab get the "Alex Jones" treatment, including "The world's youngest hedge fund manager" Jacob Wohl, who called for a police state with the suggestion that "Law enforcement agencies should embed thousands of undercover accounts on the site and establish watchlists."
@getongab I'm looking forward to you receiving the Alex Jones treatment and being permanently banned from the internet, even if it does bend the law.— Robert Caruso (@robertcaruso) October 27, 2018
The concept Gab pursued, of being a “Free Speech Platform”, is noble.— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) October 27, 2018
But let’s also be realistic. The site is a one giant cesspool of Jew-hating lunatics.
Law enforcement agencies should embed thousands of undercover accounts on the site and establish watchlists.
Twitter is one giant cesspool of Jew-hating lunatics.— Gab.com🍂 (@getongab) October 27, 2018
We have nearly 800,000 users and you are going to generalize them all as one thing?
Let's be realistic: you are no better than the left, which you rally against, for generalizing millions of people as "racists." https://t.co/HdXvqJ13zU
Alternatively, Gab has a "mute" feature.
Nonsense. I muted maybe 20-30 accounts on @getongab and that got rid of all the anti-semitic garbage I used to come across. THAT is the concept. They get to spew crap, I decide whether I want to see it.— Peter A. Dykstra (@FriendlyRadical) October 27, 2018
"Giant cesspool". Get real.