October 28, 2018 / 10:24 PM / 9 months ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 3-Gab.com goes offline after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

 (Corrects paragraph four to show non-profit group helps all
refugees, not only Jewish refugees)
    By Trevor Hunnicutt and Paresh Dave
    Oct 28 (Reuters) - Gab.com, the website where the suspected
Pittsburgh synagogue gunman posted anti-Semitic views, said on
Sunday it was offline for a period of time after being asked by
its domain provider to move to another registrar.
    The move comes after GoDaddy Inc          asked Gab to
change the domain, while PayPal Holdings Inc         , Stripe
Inc and Joynet Inc blocked the website.
    "We have informed Gab.com that they have 24 hours to move
the domain to another registrar," a spokesman for GoDaddy said,
adding the site violated its terms of service and hosted content
that "promotes and encourages violence against people."
    The 46-year-old suspect Robert Bowers in the shooting
incident has been charged with murdering 11 people on Saturday
in the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in the
United States. Hours earlier, he posted on Gab.com, saying a
non-profit that helps refugees relocate to the country was
helping to kill "my people."             
    "Gab.com is under attack. We have been systematically
no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and
several payment processors," the website said, adding that it
was working around the clock to get Gab.com back online.
    PayPal 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. 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. 
    Bowers, 46, joined the site in January.
    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 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 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
    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.
    A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is reviewing Gab's
presence on its website. Twitter declined to comment.

 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Paresh Dave; Additional
reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel
Wallis, Meredith Mazzilli and Gopakumar Warrier)
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