October 28, 2018 / 9:03 PM / 20 days ago

Gab.com fights to stay online after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

    By Trevor Hunnicutt and Paresh Dave
    Oct 28 (Reuters) - The website where the suspected
Pittsburgh synagogue gunman posted anti-Semitic views said on
Sunday it was "working around the clock" to stay online after
being cut off by payment processors and forced to switch web
hosts.
    The 46-year-old suspect Robert Bowers posted on Gab.com just
hours before murdering 11 people on Saturday in the deadliest
attack ever on the Jewish community in the United States, saying
a non-profit that helps Jewish refugees relocate to the country
was helping to kill "my people."             
    PayPal Holdings Inc          banned the website from using
its money-sending services on Saturday. Gab said on Saturday it
received notice it would be blocked by another payments website,
Stripe Inc, and had switched to a new web-hosting service after
Joyent Inc warned it would cut off the website. 
    Gab did not say who the new web host was.
    "Working around the clock to see to it that Gab.com stays
online," the company posted on Twitter on Sunday. "FREE SPEECH
WILL ALWAYS WIN."
    Founded in 2016 by conservative Andrew Torba, Gab bills
itself as the "free speech" alternative to Twitter Inc         
and Facebook Inc        and has become a popular place to post
content unwelcome or prohibited on other platforms. 
    Notable users include right-wing provocateur Milo
Yiannopoulos and Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi
Daily Stormer website, as well as media personalities Alex Jones
and Carl Benjamin.
    The free website charges for access to additional features
and also raises money on the crowdfunding website StartEngine. 
    Torba did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. 
    Utsav Sanduja, Gab's former chief operating officer, said
the company and its mission will survive "guilt by association"
and could do more fundraising through cryptocurrencies in order
to bypass tech companies. 
    "We created Gab for the purpose of letting off steam not to
kill. That was not our intention," he said. 
    In earlier statements the website said it was it was
cooperating with law enforcement authorities and described the
moves by PayPal and others as acts of "direct collusion between
big tech giants." It also called on U.S. President Donald Trump
to act. 
    PayPal declined to comment on Sunday beyond an earlier
statement that the company takes immediate action when "a site
is allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory
intolerance." 
    Joyent could not immediately be reached, and Stripe declined
to comment on individual users.
    Sanduja did say that there could be room for Gab to improve.
    "The mission should not change, but certainly there does
need to be better checks and balances in place," he said.
    Sanduja said he left his role at the website in June after
Gab users threatened his life and that of his wife, who works at
a synagogue.
    On Sunday, Gab's forum lit up with comments about the
Pittsburgh attack. One user celebrated Gab being banned by
PayPal while another user responded, "You are going to get shot
at ur local synagogue." Another posted, "I WAS RIGHT, THEY FAKED
THE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING."
    Gab raised $1 million through crowdfunding last year, but
recorded a loss of $201,704, according to a document filed with
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
    Microsoft Corp          said in an emailed statement that it
terminated Gab's accounts on its Azure cloud computing platform
last month.
    Alphabet Inc's           Google and Apple Inc's         
mobile app stores previously blocked Gab, cutting off a crucial
source of access to new users.
    Facebook's archive of ads that it considers political in
nature shows Gab has run only one such ad since May. It paid
less than $100 for that ad and generated 1,000 to 5,000 views
last month, according to the archive. 
    The company had no active ad campaigns on Facebook or
Twitter Inc          as of Saturday, according to those
companies' ad transparency databases. Gab's account on Twitter
warned users on Saturday to expect that they would be banned
from that website and Facebook soon.
    Facebook and Twitter did not respond to questions about
their plans.

 (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Meredith Mazzilli)
  
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