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Gab, the Twitter for Nazis, Is Having a “Free Speech” Meltdown on Actual Twitter

nazis gab twitter ban

I feel fortunate to be able to say that until this weekend, I had never heard of Gab, the Twitter for Nazis. I mean, Twitter itself is also Twitter for Nazis, but Gab is like Twitter explicitly for Nazis.

Anyway, I’ll miss not knowing what it is, but if you have to learn about the existence of a neo-Nazi social media site, there’s no better time to do so than when they’re having a public meltdown over “free speech” as advertisers as platform hosts collectively pull their support.

Gab is drawing attention because Robert Bowers, the man who opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend, killing 11 people, was reportedly an active member. Now, GoDaddy is apparently threatening to suspend their domain, and they say they’ve been removed from “App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.” They’ve resorted to talking to Alex Jones, the only career bigot who might have less of a platform than they do right now.

They say the site will be inaccessible for “a period of time,” but in the meantime, they’re having a full-on meltdown on Twitter. It’s more than a little dramatic.

Yup, once again, a group of actual Nazis (or at least people who want to give a platform to Nazis, and if you think there’s a difference, I’ll just say we disagree) who don’t understand that the First Amendment in no way guarantees their right to be hosted by various internet servers. The claims that they’re being censored are especially inane, seeing as they’re posting these words on Twitter.

Part of me didn’t want to give Gab any attention at all, especially because they’re posting numerous tweets about what they seem to see as a brilliant plan to force journalists to give them coverage.

However, even when their plan worked, they threw a fit about it.

(If you don’t want to click through, that “harassment” is a couple of excessively polite emails asking for help to flesh out a story.)

So sure, on the one hand, Gab is being thirsty AF on Twitter, begging for attention, and maybe we don’t want to give it to them.

On the other hand, it is always satisfying to watch racists and antisemites whine about being censored just because other companies decide not to support their particular brand of evil.

More importantly, though, I don’t buy into the “talking about a thing gives it power” argument. Or, more accurately, I believe ignoring a thing does not make it go away. Gab has existed for more than two years, but it wasn’t until they made headlines this weekend that GoDaddy seemed to notice the “numerous instances of content on your site that both promotes and encourages violence against people.”

It took prolonged public shaming for Twitter and Facebook to take the first hints of a step towards removing people like Alex Jones and de-verifying other hate speech accounts. And they deserve to be shamed for still hosting Gab. So while I totally respect those who choose to ignore the bigots, I’m all for the pile-on.

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.