Stripe and Paypal step away from far-right social network Gab

1 Nov 2018

Sign at a PayPal office in the US. Image: paulmhill/Depositphotos

Payment processing firms Stripe and PayPal have suspended Gab from using their services.

Tech firms including Stripe, PayPal and hosting provider Joyent have all withdrawn their services from Gab, a social network popular with hardline US Conservatives. It was used by the man accused of killing 11 people in a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh last month.

Violations of hate speech policies

All three firms said they would stop Gab from using their services, pointing to their terms of service banning all forms of hate speech. The social network described the decision as “direct collusion between tech giants” against the company. Microsoft Azure and GoDaddy have both also severed ties with Gab, the former doing so in August.

Future Human

Stripe said that Gab founder Andrew Torba did not provide it with enough evidence that Gab actually prevents the hate speech policy from being violated. Addressing Gab, it said: “If there’s more information you can provide on how exactly Gab will moderate its platform for adult content and other violations of our ToS [terms of service], we’re open to having a phone call this week to discuss.”

Gab said: “Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.”

Right-wing social hub

Since Gab was founded two years ago, it has attracted right-wing and white nationalist figures, with Alex Jones and Richard Spencer counted among them. Robert Bowers, the man accused of the mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, was a Gab user. He had made anti-Semitic threats and posted hateful content on Gab a few hours before the murders.

Apple has repeatedly banned Gab’s app from its App Store marketplace due to its “objectionable content”.

Warnings to companies

According to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast, Stripe and Paypal received numerous warnings about Gab’s role in disseminating hateful content online prior to the shooting.

In August, Twitter user @deplatformhate wrote to Stripe’s general counsel, documenting the issues. The user wrote: “Gab is a massive hive mind of neo-Nazis that have actively doxed journalists [sic] families that work on stories of neonazi violence.”

The Twitter user also made contact with PayPal in July, sending five follow-up emails after the initial message. In August, the company said it would “thoroughly review the mentioned website/s and/or auction/s and possible linked PayPal accounts, and take further action as appropriate in this case”. PayPal told The Daily Beast that it had been in the process of cancelling Gab’s account prior to the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh.

Gab’s chief technology officer, Ekrem Büyükkaya, stepped down last weekend. Former chief operating officer of Gab, Utsav Sanduja, left the company after he and his wife were threatened over her job at a synagogue.

Sign at a PayPal office in the US. Image: paulmhill/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects