Gab.com is running its mouth once again.
But thanks to Epik, a Seattle-based start-up that stepped in to play host, Gab is back up and running.
The site went offline Oct. 29, two days after Robert Bowers – a frequent user of the site – gunned down 11 people in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. PayPal, Stripe, Joyent, Shopify and Medium also cut ties with the company.
Bowers, 46, apparently wrote a final post soon before the attack: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Gab bills itself as a social network on a mission to “defend individual liberty and free expression online,” but has come under fire in the past for its reputation as a place friendly to extremists, neo-Nazis and the alt-right.
Clearly anticipating criticism, Epik founder and CEO Robert Monster defended his decision to bring it back in a blog post Saturday, and wrote that depriving Gab of its platform is “digital censorship” and blacklisting the site is “digital shunning.”
Monster said he met with Gab founder Andrew Torba, and was struck by his “courageous” fight to “empower netizens to discuss openly about matters of mutual interest with limited risk of censorship.”
“While there are consequences to actions, there is also the proverbial risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” Monster wrote. “My hope, for all of our sakes, is that Gab.com treads wisely, using its liberty for the betterment of most, and the enlightenment of all.”
The return of Gab – which did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment – came with some growing pains, as users faced glitches involving slow load times for posts and comments.
Regardless, the site’s content in the wake of controversy remained on par with that of other social media platforms such as Twitter. Some users urged others to join the “Red Wave” in the upcoming midterm elections. Some asked for music recommendations. Other still asked questions of Gab users, such as “Why do people have a problem with George Soros?”
Multiple users were also quick to denounce an anti-Semitic post shared Sunday by white supremacist Christopher Cantwell.
Cantwell jumped online Monday as soon as Gab was back up and running to blame the site’s problems on Jewish people.
“Hello Gab political normies. Please remembers it was the Jews who tried to shut the site down. You can call them ‘big tech’ or ‘liberal elites’ or ‘the media’ or ‘the globalists’ or ‘the bankers’ but it is always the Jews, and you’re kidding yourselves if you think otherwise,” he wrote.
While Cantwell found some support in a user who dubbed Torba a “snitch and a pedophile Jew collaborator” for working with the DOJ and the FBI to provide information about Bowers’ profile as evidence, many criticized it as a prime example of why Gab was facing heat in the first place.
“No, it was Liberal Media, Twitter, Facebook and any other people who would want to suppress our freedom of speech, opinions,” one user wrote in response.
He continued, “The crazy guy ranting about jews here was the perfect tool, excuse to put our community under attack. We generally don’t tolerate hate speech here, and any hater gets MUTED by the users.”
Wrote another, “No, it was a Jew-hating murderer inspired by your ilk to shoot up a synagogue of very old men because somehow septuagenarians, octogenarians, and whatever the term is for a 90-year old were conspiring to rule the world. 🙄🙄🙄”
Perhaps the site’s return was best described, though, by a meme shared in the humor section.