For many people, the massacre in Pittsburgh on Saturday was an introduction to gab.ai, a social-media website popular among right-wing extremists. In the weeks leading up to the killing, the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, posted a stream of anti-Semitic invective, before a final post attacking the Hebrew Immigrant Aide Society: "HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
For a normal website, the idea of having played even a glancing role in such an event would likely be a moment for soul-searching. Not Gab. The company declined an interview request, but in a stream of posts on Twitter, as well as in a public statement posted to its homepage, the company dismissed the idea that it is possible or even desirable to discourage hateful speech online. Even after taking down Bowers’s account, Gab CEO Andrew Torba told NPR he didn’t think the alleged shooter’s final post was a threat. “There’s awful content all across social media, across all of the internet. That’s the way it’s always been.”