For the second time in less than a year, popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has banned conservative-leaning social media network Gab and founder and CEO Andrew Torba from transacting on its platform, joining a long list of companies - including Medium, Joyent, GoDaddy, PayPal and Stripe - that have cut ties with the social network, according to CoinSpice.
Gab announced the ban in a series of tweets, and used the decision as a reason to advocate for decentralized exchanges.
As predicted: the on ramps and off ramps (exchanges) are going to start censoring not only companies, but also individuals. @coinbase has now banned both Gab's merchant account and Andrew Torba's personal account.— Gab.com (@getongab) January 4, 2019
Decentralized exchanges are the future. pic.twitter.com/LXkjblrdgu
The next phase of financial censorship as people move to bitcoin is censoring the on ramps and off ramps (exchanges.)— Gab.com (@getongab) January 4, 2019
This will force and incentivize people to not use those ramps and instead only use bitcoin for all things.
Keep censoring. It will only push people to bitcoin.
The ban is reportedly a delayed reaction to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which happened more than two months ago, and was also the pretext for the widespread banning of Gab, with organizations like PayPal accusing Gab of offering safe harbor to White Nationalists and Nazis. Gab has generated quite a bit of controversy despite having fewer than 1 million users.
Gab's account was arbitrarily banned by Coinbase back in June, though access was swiftly reinstated.
As CS points out, the banning of Gab by a prominent crypto exchange poses an interesting conundrum for the crypto community, which counts many devoted libertarians among its ranks.
For crypto enthusiasts, quite a few of whom count themselves as libertarian-ish or fellow travelers, Gab poses an interesting problem. Must a site necessarily endorse views it helps to spread? Can supremacists and so-called “hate” speech be banned when a platform exists as a place to speak freely? Co-founder Andrew Torba has insisted his personal worldview is not necessarily reflected in Gab users, and bad speech, objectionable speech is best counteracted with more and better speech, not less.
It remains to be seen whether the backlash will be enough to get Coinbase to reverse the ban for a second time.