Citizens gather for an interfaith candlelight vigil Nov. 1 at the Snohomish County Courthouse to honor the 11 victims of an attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Photo courtesy of The Herald.

Citizens gather for an interfaith candlelight vigil Nov. 1 at the Snohomish County Courthouse to honor the 11 victims of an attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Photo courtesy of The Herald.

Issaquah company hosts Gab, social media favorite of the far-right

An Issaquah-based registry company is hosting the site that was pulled after the synagogue shooting.

The social media website that was pulled offline following an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people returned last week after an Issaquah-based registry provider hosted it, prompting a discussion about free speech in America.

Gab, a social media site popular with the far right — including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones — lost its hosting services from GoDaddy recently. However, it was quickly returned to service after the registry company Epik agreed to host its domain name. The decision has garnered criticism as well as praise.

Epik is owned by Issaquah local Rob Monster. Monster said he decided to host Gab after talking with its founder Andrew Torba, whom he said had recently purchased Gab’s domain name for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It is not an issue I took lightly,” Monster said in an interview with the Reporter.

Monster said he would not host content that broke the law, and said he believes Gab’s internal user agreement was sufficient. According to Gab’s community guidelines, illegal pornography, threats and terrorism as defined by the U.S. Department of State are prohibited. However, it did not include clauses found in many other social media providers that also prohibit hate speech.

NPR reported on Nov. 9 that Epik was subpoenaed by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, but would not say what it was about.

After Gab returned online last week, several anti-Semitic posts were visible on the front pages of many of the sections. One post said Jewish people should be declared as non-humans, while other posts said Jews controlled world economic systems. These are common talking points for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Gab was taken offline after losing its hosting services from GoDaddy in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting where the accused shooter posted on Gab that he was “going in” before allegedly murdering 11 people. GoDaddy issued a statement to the Reporter.

“GoDaddy does not condone content that advocates expressions of hate, racism, bigotry. We generally do not take action on complaints that would constitute censorship of content and limit the exercise of freedom of speech and expression on the Internet. While we detest the sentiment of such sites, we support a free and open Internet and, similar to the principles of free speech, that sometimes means allowing such tasteless, ignorant content,” the statement said.

However, the GoDaddy statement went on to say that it had noted several instances of content on Gab that had crossed the line and encouraged and promoted violence, and therefore violated their terms of service.

Many European nations, unlike the U.S., have laws against hate speech. European laws are designed to suppress violence, hate crimes and racism, and many laws stem from Europe’s experiences in World War II when Nazis seized power and invaded much of the continent. While there are no similar laws in the U.S., private media and communication companies in recent years have begun de-platforming white supremacist and right-wing extremist profiles and websites. Several Proud Boys (a far-right men’s political group) accounts on Twitter and Facebook were purged recently, and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was banned from these sites as well. Jones has since found a haven on Gab.

Monster said he does not support the hate speech on Gab, but said he believes regulating speech is dangerous. Monster said he did not have any “red lines” that if crossed by Gab users — as long as the speech is legal — would lead him to pull his hosting service.

“It’s messy at times, but the alternative is not good,” Monster said.

Screen shot of the Gab website.

Screen shot of the Gab website.

More in News

Mayor Penny Sweet highlighted the extra effort put in by city employees and PSE workers and thanked them during her first state of the city address on Feb. 14. Kailan Manandic/Staff photo
Sweet gives first state of the city address as Kirkland mayor

Mayor Penny Sweet gave the address at the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce meeting on Feb. 14.

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Southbound traffic backs up as northbound drivers cruise on with ease on the Highway 99 viaduct on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
WSDOT hopes ‘Viadoom’ habits continue

The department credits commuters with adapting to the closure and mitigating impacts.

New Friends of Youth CEO, Paul Lwali, will replace Terry Pottmeyer. Courtesy photo.
Friends of Youth hires new CEO

Pottmeyer steps down; Lwali becomes new Friends of Youth CEO.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

Kirkland community members invited to meetings on update of the Shoreline Master Program

The meetings are set for Feb. 25 and Feb. 28 at Kirkland City Hall.

Most Read