By David Futrelle
Robert Bowers, accused of murdering eleven in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synogogue earlier today, reportedly had an account on Gab, the so-called “free speech” alternative to Twitter that has been completely overrun with Nazis and the Nazi-adjacent. Bowers used the account to spread vile anti-Semitic and racist propaganda — and, if this tweet is accurate, to hit on underage girls.
Here’s the last thing he posted on Gab before the shooting, blaming a Jewish refugee aid organization for bringing foreign “invaders” to the United States:
Bowers’ connection to Gab has been widely reported, leading PayPal to finally cut its ties with the site, which has become a major platform for, and enabler of, hate speech.
So how have the users of Gab responded to the shooting? I went there today to see, starting off by looking at the topic devoted to the shooter. The very first post I ran across was this one — jokingly criticizing Bowers for not killing as many as Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik:
This was the post immediately below it:
You don’t have to make the slightest effort to find hate on Gab. It’s everywhere. The site’s “News” topic is similarly overflowing with hateful comments on the shooting.
Many used the murder of eleven Jews by an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist as an excuse to spread … anti-Semitic conspiracy theories:
By “mongrel biological weapons” Gnome means “immigrants.” This is essentially the same conspiracy theory promoted by Bowers himself, the idea that “the Jews” are funding the immigrant “invasion” to destroy the white race.
Others cried “false flag.”
Er, “Fox,” violence has already erupted. It’s all coming from the right. And the only people trying to interfere in the elections are the GOP officials moving polling places out of reach of voters without cars and throwing mostly brown and black people off the voter rolls.
I’m not sure I fully understand GrandeFormaggio’s particular conspiracy theory below, but it too seems to boil down to the assertions that “the Jews did it.”
This lovely fellow celebrated by posting a bunch of Nazi memes.
Some painted Gab and Gabbers as the real victims, worrying about the public relations disaster Gab now faces and railing against those pointing out Bowers’ regular use of the hate-infested platform.
Christina here felt it was time to issue a warning. (The picture is of a snarling wolf; I couldn’t fit it all in the screenshot.)
The only really critical voices I ran across came from a few commenters who are openly hostile to the platform:
There are a few people on Gab who are distressed by the ubiquity of open Nazis on the platform and want to “save” the site by getting more non-Nazis to sign up. Why on earth would they? The site is beyond saving. It’s a bad place, and it’s making the world a worse place. It doesn’t deserve to survive.
EDITED TO ADD: I hasn’t seen this before I put up the post, but the official Gab account on Twitter is bragging about all the traffic they’re getting from the fact THAT ONE OF THEIR USERS JUST MURDERED ELEVEN PEOPLE.
Catapult Gab directly into the sun.
EDITED AGAIN: Speaking of which, Gab’s hosting provider is officially sick of their shit.
Click on the screenshot to see the whole thread. I don’t know if this is a knockout blow for Gab or just an inconvenience. If the former, I won’t be missing them.
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