September 22, 2017
So, Gab banned weev.
CEO Andrew Torba made the decision based on an only slightly edgy post, which was completely legal.
It was not a threat or even an encouragement of terrorism. Just an observation.
Just to be clear: it would be legal for weev to say “people should start blowing things up.”
Calls for violence, even if explicit, are legal. The relevant ruling is Brandenburg v. Ohio.
In order for violent speech to be illegal it must be a credible call to immediate violence against a specific target.
The ban came at the request of “RamZPaul,” an anti-Alt-Right Twitter user.
When making the demand that Gab ban weev, Ram tagged the FBI, in his tweet. That is to say, he informed the FBI on weev and Gab.
For the record, this twitter user has a record of making edgy posts often endorsing the “mass murderer” Anders Breivik.
As recently as April 9th of this year, he Tweeted “maybe Breivik had a point.”
There is no archive for that one, but at time of writing, it is still available on Google search – because he just went back and deleted all of these when people called him out for attacking Gab over something he himself has done.
Point being: Ram does not appear to have a problem with discussing mass murderers, but he did have a problem when it happened on Gab – so much of a problem that he felt it necessary to tell the FBI.
When questioned about why he was invoking the FBI to try and censor protected speech, he made a video – only for people who pay him on Patreon.
This came after Ram had supported Vox Day’s call for people to complain to Gab’s registrar. The same day Ram called the FBI, the registrar canceled Gab’s service.
So, series of events:
- Vox complains about people calling him names, demands Gab gives away information about users, demands a bunch of people get banned (including me for some reason)
- Torba defended the users against Vox
- Vox attacks Gab, sues them, tells people to contact the registrar and complain
- Torba filed a very important lawsuit against Google, which has widespread implications for the entire free internet
- The registrar drops Gab
- Ram calls in the feds saying an observation is a threat of violence
- Torba responds by banning weev, thus losing his free speech mandate
Initially, I thought that Torba only banned weev in a panic, because of the threat to get the FBI involved.
However, after having been cagey for a few days, Torba came out and said he isn’t really committed 100% to free speech. He just generally supports free speech more than maybe Twitter or Facebook does. I guess.
What that last sentence translates to is: “no one gives a shit about the First Amendment.”
The reality is that it took both Twitter and Facebook years to ban weev. And he often made comments on both platforms that were a lot more extreme than the observation about the OKC bombing Torba banned him for. Ram himself is making comments worse than what weev said on Twitter in 2017.
The Jews are certainly happy with his decision.
— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) September 18, 2017
While even some “Alt-Lite” figures on Twitter were unhappy with the move.
— James☝️Allsup (@realJamesAllsup) September 18, 2017
On his blog, weev wrote a post explaining the situation and advising investors to pull their money out of the project.
This is very sad to me.
I was excited about Gab, and really believed in Torba.
And I wanted to keep believing in him, even after he made the decision to ban weev, because I thought maybe he just needed to run it by a lawyer. FBI threats like the one Ram made can be scary to people. But his follow-up statements show that there is no actual commitment to free speech.
I invested in Gab. I have a vested interest in it succeeding.
But I don’t really see how it can. The entire concept was free speech. Without that, it isn’t really a valuable product. It is just a less functional version of Twitter.
Once a free speech registrar exists, someone will probably come up with a real free speech social media platform that functions better than Gab which will make Gab irrelevant.
Torba has miscalculated just how much people care about free speech. You would think he would have understood it, since it was the entire concept of the site was free speech. But I guess he didn’t.
I’m not as jaded as weev. I think Torba did have good intentions. I just don’t think he was serious enough to have thought through what he was doing.
What he promised was all legal speech would be allowed. Now we know that all legal speech is not allowed. So where is the line, exactly?
Surely, if weev got banned for his OKC post, then Ram would be banned for his posts praising Breivik (which he didn’t get banned from Twitter for) – right?
I don’t think Torba understands what he’s given up.
It Isn’t Complicated
A real free speech website would follow Torba’s initial claim: “we allow any speech that is legal.”
That was the position of Twitter for years.
And it is a defensible position.
Torba is now in the position that all of these other tech companies are in: he is now implicitly endorsing any speech that he doesn’t ban.
This is very sad.
I fight for free speech.
I wanted to fight for Torba and for Gab.
Now, I don’t think there is anything there to fight for.
So, I will be on my own BBS, and posting here.
I will use Gab for site updates for as long as Torba allows me. There are of course no guarantees I won’t just be banned at any time though.
After I posted this article, I had some back and forth with Torba on Gab.
He has been saying that because I moderate the DS forum, that he should moderate based on the rules of DS (or something). My response is of course that DS never solicited money based on it being a free speech social media platform that allows all speech that is legal under the First Amendment. I don’t moderate the forum myself, but generally, people can get banned simply for being anti-social (that is, disrespecting the general culture of the board). That is because the DS forum is not a free speech social media platform, it’s a community for readers and activists.
But then he started saying he banned weev because he lives in a country that doesn’t have the First Amendment.
It ended with him posting this cryptic, weird statement.
What does that mean?
I do not know.
He did not elaborate on it. Just dropped it.
But apparently it is related to the above thing about weev getting banned for living in another country. So now everyone living in another country is going to get banned based on the laws of the country they live in?
How is that sustainable? Or even enforceable?
And why would you do it? There is no obligation for a US site to figure out who is living in which country and moderate their posts based on that.
I pointed out that in the UK, it is illegal to quote certain passages from the Bible.
Anyway – I generally don’t have any idea what this statement of Torba’s means, but it doesn’t bode well.
It is what it is, I suppose.