Gab, the Twitter knock-off of choice for the far right, has 48 hours to delete offending content that Microsoft says incites violence. If Gab doesn’t delete the two posts, created by a user of the site, Microsoft says it will suspend its hosting services.
Gab was founded as a “free speech” platform to counter Twitter, but has largely been a hub for neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other so-called alt-right groups to congregate. The posts in question are anti-Semitic and explicitly call for Jews to be tortured and for destroying Holocaust memorials, something that the author calls the “Holohoax.”
But this is par for the course on Gab, where the most vile things are posted about women, ethnic minorities, and basically anyone who isn’t a white man. Microsoft seems to have had enough with the hate speech and says that if the site wants to find another cloud service provider the company will give Gab more than 48 hours to do so.
A Microsoft spokesperson sent this statement to Gizmodo via email:
Microsoft received a complaint about specific posts on Gab.ai that advocate ‘ritual death by torture’ and the ‘complete eradication’ of all Jews. After an initial review, we have concluded that this content incites violence, is not protected by the First Amendment, and violates Microsoft Azure’s acceptable use policy. Microsoft notified Gab.ai of this substantial concern and advised that it remove this content or respond to Microsoft within 48 hours, or potentially risk suspension of its service on Azure.
We believe we have an important responsibility to ensure that our services are not abused by people and groups seeking to incite violence against others. Our policies rightly prohibit this type of content, and we expect Gab.ai to abide by these policies if it wishes to use our service. Gab.ai is of course free to choose otherwise and work with another cloud service provider or host this content itself. If it wishes to make that choice, we will provide it with a reasonable amount of time, in this instance longer than 48 hours, to transition its content elsewhere before its access to Azure is terminated. But we will stand by our policy and insist that Gab.ai remove what is unlawful and hateful content.
A request for comment from Gab was met with a reply to “get bent,” as was expected.
Gab has always heralded itself as a beacon of free speech, but the operators of the website seem to share many of its users’ most extreme views. Just this afternoon, whoever runs the Gab account on Twitter sarcastically called anti-semitism “wrong think.”
The user who posted the comments that drew Microsoft’s attention claims they are open to deleting them, but that it’s a violation of their rights. We’ll update this post if we hear more about what Gab plans to do.