What is Gab.com?

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooter had an account on the site

Gab.com is a controversial social media website and app founded on the premise of promoting free speech in 2016 by Andrew Torba.

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The social media platform "champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online" in accordance with U.S. law, according to its website.

The website's content policies and algorithms differ from its competitors, Twitter and Facebook, due to its focus on free speech.

The website's trending section recently featured articles from websites like National File, The Gateway Pundit and Breitbart.

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Gab's interface is similar to Twitter's with a user dashboard featured in the center of the website, trending topics featured on the right and menu options on the left.

As of April 13, the website had more than 1.1 million new cumulative registered accounts and 3.7 million global monthly visitors, according to the website's 2020 SEC filings.

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The platform also offers an open-source, free-speech-focused web browser called Dissenter.

The App Store and Google Play have removed Gab from their respective platforms due to "objectionable content" and "hate speech," respectively, which Gab says could have a negative impact on its business, according to the company's filings.

The platform came under fire after a Gab account attributed to Robert Bowers, the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, was discovered on the website, where he spread anti-Semitic messages.

Gab suspended the account belonging to Robert Gregory Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month, shortly after the attack. The site said it backed up all user data for that account and notified the FBI.

"Gab.com’s policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we a have zero tolerance for it," Gab wrote in an October 2018 statement. "Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. This has always been our policy."

The site said that it was "saddened and disgusted by the news of violence in Pittsburgh" and "keeping the families and friends of all victims in our thoughts and prayers" but added that "Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people."

Domain registrar GoDaddy and other internet services dropped the site immediately following the news, but Gab came back online about a week later.

Christopher Cantwell, a leading white nationalist figure who has one of the largest followings on Gab, posted an anti-Semitic message Sunday after the site was back online. He has since been banned from the website.

"Hey Jews! We're back on Gab now. Thanks for the press. Pretty soon the average citizen is going to figure out that we wouldn't be having these problems in your absence, and we genuinely appreciate your help in stepping up the timeline on that," Cantwell wrote.

In July, Cantwell pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from the torchlit rally on the eve of the August 2017 white nationalist rally that erupted in violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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PayPal and Stripe cut off access to Gab in response to the news. Torba also said on June 19 that Visa had "blacklisted" him and his wife.

The mayhem in Charlottesville prompted many internet platforms to crack down on online hate. For example, Google and GoDaddy yanked The Daily Stormer's web address after the neo-Nazi website's founder, Andrew Anglin, published a post mocking the woman killed when a man drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville. Anglin's site struggled for months to stay online.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.