The world’s most popular payment platform PayPal severed ties with Gab following reports that suspected Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers was an avid user, The Verge reports.
Gab, which prides itself on being a social network that “champions free speech,” will now have to seek alternative payment options. In a brief statement supplied to The Verge, a PayPal spokesperson confirmed the ban.
“When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.”
Robert Bowers allegedly opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue earlier today, killing 11 and wounding six individuals, according to Time.
Immediately after the alleged Pittsburgh shooter’s name became known to the public, reports about Bowers’ Gab use started surfacing. Hours before committing what President Donald Trump described as an “anti-Semitic act,” the following message was reportedly posted on Gab.
“HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] likes to bring in invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Bowers’ alleged profile appears to have been deleted from the platform, but a glance at the content via archive.li suggests that the person behind the posts is a rabid anti-Semite. The Gab profile is chock-full of racist, xenophobic messages, and anti-Semitic posts and caricatures.
“Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” one of the purported Gab messages reads,
“There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k**e infestation.”
Gab founder and CEO Andrew Torba notified his Twitter followers about the PayPal ban, writing that Gab “is now banned from Paypal ‘just because.'”
Gab released a statement on Medium, saying that it “disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence,” adding that the platform’s mission is to “defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people,” but noting that “social media often brings out the best and the worst of humanity.” The company also stated that it had backed up all data from Bowers’ account, suspended it, and then contacted U.S. law enforcement.
— The Verge (@verge) October 27, 2018
Although Gab apparently aims to be a free speech haven, it has metamorphosed into a far-right echo chamber, according to Vice. This comes on the heels of Facebook and Twitter’s crackdowns on so-called hate speech. Experts, however, argue that far-right social media users are migrating to Gab not because they want to, but because they have to, which can be dangerous since tracking their online activities becomes more difficult for law enforcement, and radicalizes them even further, as explained by Vice.
For PayPal, this is not the first time to sever ties with an organization following widespread controversy. In September this year, PayPal banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media organization, InfoWars, from the platform. Jones later sued PayPal, citing bias against conservatives, according to BBC.
Interestingly, Andrew Torba has appeared on Alex Jones’ show at least once. A video of his talk with the conspiracy theorist is available on YouTube.