Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Gab, the Internet, and Free Speech

 

I am not a lawyer, Constitutional or otherwise, but it has come to my attention that the Gab social media site has been very effectively suppressed out of existence in the wake of the Tree of Life shootings. They have this to say at their home page:

Gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist. Because of the data we provided, they now have plenty of evidence for their case. In the midst of this Gab has been no-platformed by essential internet infrastructure providers at every level. We are the most censored, smeared, and no-platformed startup in history, which means we are a threat to the media and to the Silicon Valley Oligarchy.

Gab isn’t going anywhere.

It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter what the sophist talking heads say on TV. It doesn’t matter what verified nobodies say on Twitter. We have plenty of options, resources, and support. We will exercise every possible avenue to keep Gab online and defend free speech and individual liberty for all people.

You have all just made Gab a nationally recognized brand as the home of free speech online at a time when Silicon Valley is stifling political speech they disagree with to interfere in a US election.

The internet is not reality. TV is not reality. 80% of normal everyday people agree with Gab and support free expression and liberty. The online outrage mob and mainstream media spin machine are the minority opinion. People are waking up, so please keep pointing the finger at a social network instead of pointing the finger at the alleged shooter who holds sole responsibility for his actions.

No-platform us all you want. Ban us all you want. Smear us all you want.

You can’t stop an idea.

As we transition to a new hosting provider Gab will be inaccessible for a period of time. We are working around the clock to get Gab.com back online. Thank you and remember to speak freely.

Andrew Torba, CEO Gab.com

As an Internetizen with an interest in developments in the social media arena, I have an account and have paid occasional visits to Gab over the last year or so. Yes there are or were (TBD) some pretty despicable folks on Gab, as there are on Facebook and Twitter and the rest. Like the rest, Gab offers tools to block the maggots to suit yourself. Gab was finally approaching a critical mass where decent users could find enough polite or nearly polite conversation to make the site attractive. It will never be the curated treasure trove that Ricochet is under Gab’s current rules, but Ricochet has not achieved critical mass on many areas and topics, either. And the marketplace is about options.

So far I have only seen the above post, I do not yet know what providers are refusing Gab service and what their reason is for doing so. I also know that the US view on free speech is very radical compared to the rest of the planet, and that the Internet’s jurisdictions and sovereignty issues are still getting sorted. But that radicalism is perhaps our greatest example to the world.

Many years ago I hosted a visiting West German policeman for a few hours, and his biggest cultural issue was our Sunday morning talking heads shows. These people were saying vile and contemptible things! How could this be permitted. My answer was that we then know exactly who holds the views that we find contemptible and support or resist them accordingly.

There are 23 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Amen, brother. I also have a Gab account.

    • #1
    • October 29, 2018, at 9:25 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Oddly the only way that GAB may be able to protect American free speech is to leave America and host outside its borders.

    • #2
    • October 29, 2018, at 9:30 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael MinnottJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t have a Gab account and am only vaguely aware of them, but perhaps now is the time to check them out and join them.

    • #3
    • October 29, 2018, at 9:31 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    I don’t have a Gab account and am only vaguely aware of them, but perhaps now is the time to check them out and join them.

    At least, when they manage to get back up and working.

    • #4
    • October 29, 2018, at 9:35 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    I don’t have a Gab account and am only vaguely aware of them, but perhaps now is the time to check them out and join them.

    At least, when they manage to get back up and working.

    If they get up and working. It is obvious that the tech elites have decided to play hard ball and use their influence to remove Gab from the field. Somebody wants them gone or in a position that they can be purchased.

    • #5
    • October 29, 2018, at 9:44 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. James Lileks Contributor

    So far I have only seen the above post, I do not yet know what providers are refusing Gab service and what their reason is for doing so

    Hosting accounts by wretched people who say horrible things and promote hatred and violence. It’s a place where the worst people post the worst things.

    Vanity Fair’s Hive tells you all what it means:

    When it launched in 2016, Gab.com touted itself as one of the last bastions of free speech on the Internet. Two years later, as the site is “de-platformed” in the wake of its connection to the senseless mass murder in Pittsburgh, Gab has become an even more redolent example of how technology is eroding democracy.

    Democracy is believed to be “eroding” when your side doesn’t win everything you deem important.

    Its blind commitment to so-called free speech permitted any sort of discussion to thrive, even if it was hateful, violent, or anti-Semitic in nature.

    Well, yes; that’s what happens when you don’t set boundaries, which was the point of Gab. But note: so-called free speech. It shouldn’t be called that, the author insinuates, because of its content.

    Never trust anyone who has to qualify “Free Speech” unless they’re prosecuting a guy who yelled “fire” at the multiplex.

    Now we get to the fun part.

    The internal debate over exactly how much hate speech the community could tolerate reflects a broader argument within the right over how to spread their ideas throughout the Internet—whether by “red-pilling”, a.k.a. sneaking fascist, racist, or anti-Semitic views into larger society by presenting them as reasonable alternatives to apparently strident liberal voices (“social-justice warriors“), or by overt action, such as rallies and marches, neo-Nazi imagery, and racist chants.

    The author is hallucinating. There is no broad argument within “the right” about whether we should sneak fascist ideas into society by pretending to be a reasonable alternative, or whether we should actually light the tiki-torches and parade around Heiling Milo. If the author spent a day or two here at Ricochet, where the Actual Right chews over the issues, she’d find a disheartening lack of people torn between lying and rioting.

    And more:

     . . . the existence of Gab reflects a larger trend on the right, wherein those banished from mainstream social-media sites create evermore extreme platforms on which to express themselves. Fox News initiated this trend more than two decades ago: the cable channel was explicitly founded to offer a conservative take on the news, while Andrew Breitbart built his namesake site to cater to an even more conservative audience.

    Gawd, this is lazy. Gab is part of a larger trend of trending things that are totally trends, like the founding of an alternative news channel over 20 years ago, and then a website ten-plus years later! One could say that Air America was explicitly founded to offer a liberal take on the news, while DailyKos built his namesake site to cater to an even more liberal audience! One might be right!

    So?

    I’m not crazy about the balkanization of news sources, because it means a lot of people wall themselves off from a common conversation. But the right wouldn’t have flocked to Fox if they felt they were getting a fair shake from the mainstream media – just as people on the left wouldn’t have abandoned NPR by the tens of dozens for Air America if they’d felt the MSM was tainted by corporate influence.

    More to the point: in a media landscape of divergent viewpoints, is the right allowed to have outlets? Or are we saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s Donald in that cartoon where he dreams he’s a Nazi?

    Although the site advertised a strict no-tolerance policy against posts calling for violence, self-harm, or threatening language, moderation was often lax. Eventually, members were evicted for much more arbitrary reasons.

    Like Twitter, then.

    Gab failed to do what it said it would. I’m guessing it didn’t have the staff to check everything, its audience didn’t report TOS violations, and its general philosophy made them hesitant to wield the banhammer. RIP and off you go and say hello to GeoCities and MySpace. But note the inclusion of Gab in the same cosmos as Fox and Brietbart (not even the modern version, but the one Andrew originally intended) to show they’re elements of the debate on the right about how best to advance fascism.

    Even if it’s true, which I won’t concede, she could credit the right for having the argument. In other quarters the argument for head-cracking in the streets seems quite settled.

    • #6
    • October 29, 2018, at 10:01 PM PDT
    • 29 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    Sisyphus: So far I have only seen the above post, I do not yet know what providers are refusing Gab service and what their reason is for doing so.

    When we find out (and we find out what criteria they were using) we should be ready to pressure all levels of government not to use services from providers that don’t allow the maximum possible freedom of speech.

    • #7
    • October 29, 2018, at 10:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Chris Member

    Thanks for posting about this. Somewhere in my breakfast time perusal of the news I was struck by this link (“After the 2nd they come for the 1st”) from Instapundit.

    As with many stories that Instapundit links to, I might not be familiar with the “source” website and take it with a grain of salt. But I found the included screenshots of Jen Rubin and Howard Dean’s tweets pretty shocking, and although I don’t agree with them I know they have a platform and there is obviously an element of “elite consensus building” going on for their ideas.

    • #8
    • October 30, 2018, at 4:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member

    Hmmm. I recall when Alex Jones and a few others were deplatformed some here raised the point that Twitter, FB, et. al., were eventually going to start blocking more mainstream folks on the right. We were told “if there’s a market for a true free speech site, go build it.” When we said that would be very hard, and any such site would eventually be denied hosting, etc., we were mocked. (Subtly, but mocked nonetheless)

    Well, seems to me that for all its faults (noted by @jameslileks), Gab did attempt to build just such a site. And those of us who predicted that such a site would eventually be cut off from hosting, payments, etc., have been proven right.

    I await the next round of mocking.

    • #9
    • October 30, 2018, at 5:27 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  10. Ekosj Member

    Rights, if they are actually what I think we mean when we use the term, have to apply to the most repugnant and reprehensible or they are not worthy of the name. Because the definitions of repugnant and reprehensible are at the whim of the mob and things can change quickly. You’d be surprised how quickly something near and dear to you, that you thought was mainstream, can suddenly become beyond the pale. That’s exactly when you need the protections of those rights the most.

    • #10
    • October 30, 2018, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Hmmm. I recall when Alex Jones and a few others were deplatformed some here raised the point that Twitter, FB, et. al., were eventually going to start blocking more mainstream folks on the right. We were told “if there’s a market for a true free speech site, go build it.” When we said that would be very hard, and any such site would eventually be denied hosting, etc., we were mocked. (Subtly, but mocked nonetheless)

    Well, seems to me that for all its faults (noted by @jameslileks), Gab did attempt to build just such a site. And those of us who predicted that such a site would eventually be cut off from hosting, payments, etc., have been proven right.

    I await the next round of mocking.

    This is no different than banks refusing to to business with gun owners. That is not a problem as they are “private” (yeah, not like the banks are regulated by the government as much as any utility or anything)

    I wonder when Verizon will dump customers for speech they don’t like? Will that be a problem for conservatives?

    How about ISP’s refusing to do business with people?

    At some point, we have to acknowledge that letting mobs dictate who can own and operate a business is going to end badly.

    • #11
    • October 30, 2018, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  12. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    The problem is the corporate culture sees conservatives as easy pickings. Caving to the left has no consequences.

    We should provide them with consequences. If you want to smack down conservatives, then you lose our business. I used to use Grubhub for years, then their CEO demanded that Trump supporters leave the company. Have not used them since, even when it would be more convenient to do so.

    More to the point, if you want to start deplatforming conservatives, then say good bye to your safe harbor, and hello to a storm of libel suits for anything written on your platform – since you are acting less like the phone company and more like a newspaper.

    • #12
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:16 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. Dave Sussman Podcaster

    Had a Gab account for Whiskey Politics. On paper, it was a great idea especially as Twitter does twittery things to conservatives.

    I was on the waiting list to join Gab during their Beta phase. Soon after, I joined the full version of Gab (2016) but quickly learned what ((( ))) around my name meant. I quickly learned where all the basement dwelling nazis landed after being kicked off legacy social media. Sadly, I quickly learned Gabs supposed “blocking” and filtering system didn’t work.

    I am all for free-market solutions to combat online censorship by the majors and had hoped Gab was a viable option. Gabs platform was overtaken by white supremacists who spend their time telling me and the Jewish community our skin should be used for lampshades.

    Deleted my account.

    • #13
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  14. The Reticulator Member

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Sadly, I quickly learned Gabs supposed “blocking” and filtering system didn’t work.

    I didn’t know they had a blocking and filtering system. I have an account but haven’t used it. I was waiting for people to appear who I’d want to talk to. There were some bad sorts I wouldn’t want to associate with.

    We need to protect its existence. 

    • #14
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Full Size Tabby Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Hmmm. I recall when Alex Jones and a few others were deplatformed some here raised the point that Twitter, FB, et. al., were eventually going to start blocking more mainstream folks on the right. We were told “if there’s a market for a true free speech site, go build it.” When we said that would be very hard, and any such site would eventually be denied hosting, etc., we were mocked. (Subtly, but mocked nonetheless)

    Well, seems to me that for all its faults (noted by @jameslileks), Gab did attempt to build just such a site. And those of us who predicted that such a site would eventually be cut off from hosting, payments, etc., have been proven right.

    I await the next round of mocking.

    This is no different than banks refusing to to business with gun owners. That is not a problem as they are “private” (yeah, not like the banks are regulated by the government as much as any utility or anything)

    I wonder when Verizon will dump customers for speech they don’t like? Will that be a problem for conservatives?

    How about ISP’s refusing to do business with people?

    At some point, we have to acknowledge that letting mobs dictate who can own and operate a business is going to end badly.

    As @richardepstein has noted several times, in theory the ISP’s, Facebook and similar “platforms” wanted to be declared “carriers” having no input on the content being carried in order to avoid liability for when people do slanderous or other illegal things on the “platform.” But, if they are going to start “policing” the content on their “platform,” then they become liable for the legal consequences of that content, and should become liable when people use the platform to slander others or to plot illegal activities. 

    • #15
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:37 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  16. Locke On Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Sisyphus: So far I have only seen the above post, I do not yet know what providers are refusing Gab service and what their reason is for doing so.

    When we find out (and we find out what criteria they were using) we should be ready to pressure all levels of government not to use services from providers that don’t allow the maximum possible freedom of speech.

    Those who deplatformed Gab include:

    • Microsoft Azure
    • Stripe
    • Paypal
    • Joyent
    • GoDaddy

    I’ve been on and off Gab since their beta. Staying on without regurgitation required frequent and ruthless use of the mute button. Biggest issue is the neo-Nazis and other blatant racists. There are enough of them (even without counting the sock puppets, trolls, false-flags, and [CoC]-posters) that their rubbish will often make it onto the ‘popular’ lists due to mutual admiration ‘likes’, which leaks past the gags. The upside is a sampling of (typically) mega-MAGA grassroots. Some days worth it, some days not.

    There is probably a niche for a not-Twitter social chat network, and I have no brief for the incumbents’ blatantly slanted censorship. But Gab will have to find a way to make the racist fringe unwelcome without going too far into hypocrisy on their ‘speak freely’ pledge. Won’t be easy.

    • #16
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:47 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. David March Thatcher

    ‘I care nothing for Free Speech in and by itself. All of us place too much value on the power of the printed word and the power of the spoken word. We read too much. We listen too much. We live too little. We act too little….I speak to you by my actions past and present. I have been gagged, I have been been suppressed, I have have been hauled off to jail. Yet every time, more people have listened to me, more have protested, more have lifted their voices, more have been responded with courage and bravery….As a propagandist I see immense advantaged in being gagged. It silences me, but it makes millions of others talk about me, and the cause in which I live.’

    Ford Hall Forum Boston Speech, Woman Rebel, The Margaret Sanger Story, Peter Bagge.

    • #17
    • October 30, 2018, at 10:55 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am blissfully ignorant of Gab. But based on the comments here it seems to be Twitter for people too technologically stupid to use the dark web to spew their hatred.

    Common carrier status would prevent social media from deplatforming due to content and would protect them from being labeled as accomplices in crime, much in the same way the phone companies are shielded from illegal activities plotted or executed on their services. 

    • #18
    • October 30, 2018, at 11:55 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Hmmm. I recall when Alex Jones and a few others were deplatformed some here raised the point that Twitter, FB, et. al., were eventually going to start blocking more mainstream folks on the right.

    I hear Lifesite (a pro-life news site) is the newest target. Bit Chute (a Youtube alternative which shares much of the same promise and pitfalls as Gab) has been given similar treatment by servers and payment systems.

    On that subject, sign up with Bit Chute and whenever possible view the channels one might otherwise view on Youtube (such as Sargon, Crowder, and Project Veritas) on Bit Chute instead. Yes, it currently has a disproportionate number of undesirable channels, but that’s to be expected on a free speech platform when the easy targets are hit first, and they are easy to ignore.

    • #19
    • October 30, 2018, at 6:33 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Sounds like Gab was a real swell place.

    Do companies like Paypal and others have the same speech rights which can be exercised by abstaining from conducting commerce with Gab?

    • #20
    • October 31, 2018, at 12:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    The (apathetic) King Prawn (View Comment):

    Sounds like Gab was a real swell place.

    Do companies like Paypal and others have the same speech rights which can be exercised by abstaining from conducting commerce with Gab?

    When practiced against something liberals do not like, you betcha. Now if they wanted to pratice it against one of the Left’s pet causes, like Planned Parenthood, most likely not. Or if they did, they should expect a government agencies enema.

    • #21
    • October 31, 2018, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

     

    The (apathetic) King Prawn (View Comment):

    Sounds like Gab was a real swell place.

    Do companies like Paypal and others have the same speech rights which can be exercised by abstaining from conducting commerce with Gab?

    I don’t think so. I mean, should a cell phone company be able to tell people they cannot have a phone? Can Comcast not run internet? How is it heavily regulated banks can refuse to serve someone?

    If conservatives accept the whole “well these are private companies” line, then we have to build our own banking, hosting, and other systems to compete. It is only a matter of time before whomever hosts this site decides to not do business here. 

    • #22
    • November 1, 2018, at 4:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. RufusRJones Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    If conservatives accept the whole “well these are private companies” line, then we have to build our own banking, hosting, and other systems to compete.

    Kim.com (I forget his real name) is working on a new form of Twitter. The hosting or whatever you call it is extremely decentralized, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is how it’s moderated. Something like that. I hope it works out

     

    • #23
    • November 1, 2018, at 6:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes

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