Tech & Telecom Law News

Synagogue Shooting Spurs Tech Companies to Drop Gab.com (1)

Oct. 29, 2018, 3:25 PMUpdated: Oct. 29, 2018, 6:27 PM

Social network Gab.com, where the suspected Pittsburgh synagogue shooter allegedly posted anti-Semitic messages, has gone offline after web hosting company GoDaddy Operating Co. LLC and other tech companies withdrew their services.

The moves highlight a trend of domain name companies and other service providers dropping websites that host content linked to terrorist attacks or other episodes of violence. GoDaddy last year suspended the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

GoDaddy had given Gab.com 24 hours to move its web domain. Gab.com violated GoDaddy’s terms of service due to “numerous instances of content” that encourages violence against people, the web hosting company said in an emailed statement.

PayPal Holdings Inc. has canceled Gab.com’s account, the payment processor said in a statement. PayPal said it had been closely monitoring Gab.com and was in the process of canceling its account prior to the Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in which suspect Robert Bowers allegedly killed 11 people.

Internet companies aren’t required to provide services to anyone. The companies are also broadly protected under federal law from policing and removing web content created by their users.

GoDaddy and other domain name sellers are required to take reasonable steps to investigate and respond to reports of abuse, pursuant to their agreements with the Internet Corporation for the Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit that manages the domain name system.

GoDaddy said it acted after investigating complaints it received.

Gab.com said in a statement it has been “systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.” It said it will be inaccessible until it moves to a new hosting company.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout)

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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