Gab has been shut down by its cloud host

Gab, the free speech social media site (effectively a Twitter alternative) was unceremoniously shut down by its host with no notice tonight, with a further note that Gab’s data has to be moved off the platform by Monday morning or it gets wiped. The Pittsburgh shooter had an account there, and Gab’s cloud host, Joyent, used this as an excuse to jettison Gab. Gab had to transition from Microsoft’s Azure cloud just weeks ago after they also suddenly gave Gab an eviction notice. “Terms of Service” violation, again. The TOS is becoming the all-purpose club used to eliminate anyone to the right of Jennifer Rubin from the Internet.

This is frightening on many levels, because it’s proof that there really is no free market in tech. It’s more like an oligopoly of like minded left wingers that collude to keep the riff-raff out. As has been pointed out elsewhere, if we REALLY had a free market, someone like Vimeo would have jumped at the chance to host Alex Jones after YouTube booted him.

This is just the latest in a long line of Tech-vs-Right, going all the way back to Ebay and Amazon banning all things Confederate after Dylan Roof’s shooting. And it’s only gotten worse since then. We all heard the “First they came for the …” stuff growing up. We just never thought WE’D be the “they came for” part.

 

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60 thoughts on “Gab has been shut down by its cloud host”

  1. Terms of Service violation could mean almost anything.  My guess it is some form of “hate speech”.

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  2. Douglas:
    […] We all heard the “First they came for the …” stuff growing up. We just never thought WE’D be the “they came for” part.

    (*%T SLIGHTLY_OFF_TOPIC *)

    You did not really expect the enemy to be chivalrous, did you ? 😉 It is logical and even necessary for “them” to use *all* dirty tricks available in order to eradicate “us” by all possible means : “by all means — including the legal ones”, “par tous les moyens, même légaux” as Charles Maurras wrote it. They’re in for *Fight Club*, not for *Gentleman Jim*.

    While I’m at it, I’ve never understood why this poor poem was so fashionable, the Niemöller’s “<First|Then> they came for the <placeholder>, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a <placeholder>”. If you look at this refrain with logic rather than with emotion, it is indeed both a mark of cowardice and a mark of selfishness : the *first* movement is to *ignore* the others’ situation, with the fallacious hope the bad guys will forget you at least for a little while. The *next* movement consists of thinking a little more forward then chosing another survival *tactic*, and a really hypocritical one : *faking* interest in others’ situation so they feel they are *already* in debt to you, and so they will be *forced* to worry about *you* the day *you* will be in trouble. It is the meaning of this abject distressed final declaration : “and there was no one left to speak for me”. If this is not self-interest, I don’t know what it is. 😉
    In order to check this hypothesis, just try and replace, in the “poem”, the placeholder words such as “communists” or “trade unionists” with “right-wingers”, “patriots” or “Trump supporters”. Oddly enough, then, the “poem” *no longer* works for a leftist. I think this is called “double standards”, “deux poids, deux mesures”.

    For those who read French, here’s a (not so) funny page I cannot even quote with newer decisions of the infamous CEDH (ECHR for you English-speaking people) in favor of a certain persecuted cult of love, peace and tolerance :

    http://dernieregerbe.hautetfort.com/archive/2016/10/11/quand-ils-sont-venus-me-chercher-ou-l-apologue-de-niemoller-5859421.html

    (*%E *)

    P.S. edit/fix/update : I just checked the “revised poem” translation from French into English by Google Translate (thanks, Gerry, for reminding me this thing was available and sometimes useful !) : it is adequate and worth reading, for I cannot quote it for too obvious reasons (the hunt for online WrongBadEvilThinkers has been running for a few months here).

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  3. PayPal has also terminated Gab’s use of their system.

    Here are additional details at the Daily Caller.

    Further, it appears payment processor Stripe is about to ban Gab.

    Nope, no co-ordination to see here.  Move along.

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  4. So any grotesque act by one person gets an entire website shut down. Man the Left better be glad they don’t have to live by the same standards or there wouldn’t be anything on the internet

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  5. drlorentz:
    How feasible is it for Gab to set up their own servers?

    According to Gab, they have around 800,000 users and are processing around 9 million visits per month.

    This is not a huge load.  On some months when my Fourmilab.ch site was getting a lot of traffic for Earth and Moon Viewer, for example May 2012, my server was getting more than 7 million hits a month, and many of those hits required custom rendering of images which requires far more CPU and memory resources than the simple database lookup of a largely text-based chat site.  All of this was run on a single Dell PowerEdge 1850 1U server with a 100 Mb/sec symmetrical fibre optic connection to my ISP.  The monthly cost of this, including amortising the server and network hardware but not counting my time, was around CHF 7500/month (which is about the same in US$).  When I moved the site to Amazon Web Services in January, 2016, the hosting cost fell to around US$ 150/month, a factor of fifty less, and I got substantially greater bandwidth to the Internet than the 100 Mb/sec I had before (not that it mattered, since the site rarely used 100 Mb bandwidth).

    So, cloud hosting is a lot cheaper than running your own server, but compared to the expenses of a real business with employees, facilities, etc., it’s not impossible.  If you require the uptime available with a cloud service (multiple servers, redundant load balancers and network connections, backup power, etc.), that further runs up the cost of self-hosting.

    (I should note that Internet connectivity is particularly expensive in Switzerland, especially outside the big cities.  I could have dramatically reduced the cost by, for example, co-locating a server at a facility in the U.K., but then I would not have had direct access to it whenever I wanted.)

    Note that when you’re running your own server, you’re still dependent upon third parties for Internet connectivity and other services.  If the pink hairs and soybeards can’t shut you down by going after your cloud hosting provider, they’ll simply re-target the ISP through which you connect to the Internet.  There haven’t been as many cases of sites getting their ISP service terminated by outrage mobs, but that’s because most of their targets so far don’t run their own servers.  They can also go after your domain registrar or DNS provider (although you can guard against the latter by running your own DNS, which I did from 1993 through 2010 because it was cheaper).  In August, 2017, the domain registration for the Daily Stormer Web site was cancelled by Google,  The only protection against this is to have multiple domain registrars in different jurisdictions (for example, you can get to Fourmilab at http://f.ht/ which is registered in Haiti), but then if your primary registration is yanked, you still need to find a way to communicate the new one to users and it will still break all incoming links which use the terminated domain name.

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  6. David Harris:
    How long before Ratburger is shut down?

    See my comments in comment #9 supra for details on running your own server.  All of the pre-2016 infrastructure for running the Fourmilab site is still in place, although it would be a good idea to update the 14 year old servers (still running) which have been out of warranty since 2009.  I have full mirror backups of the AWS server in my physical possession.  It would probably take less than a week to spin up the site on a new server hosted here, which is interestingly around what Gab is estimating for the outage expected when their hosting is pulled on Monday.

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  7. John Walker:
    If the pink hairs and soybeards can’t shut you down by going after your cloud hosting provider, they’ll simply re-target the ISP through which you connect to the Internet.

    Seems to me this would be getting close to shutting down someone’s phone or electric power because their opinions were unpopular.  Even Nazis are allowed to have phones, right? To the extent that Internet service is coming to be viewed as a necessary public utility, cutting people off for political reasons would look less defensible. I’m not saying it can’t happen.

    Presumably, even Nazis get to keep their phone service because utilities are regulated. Interfering with Internet access on political grounds would make a case for regulating ISPs just like any utility to the extent they are not already treated as such.

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  8. This sort of thing is why I can’t be a Libertarian.

    Long ago I watched Charles Murray give a talk about how a Libertarian-envisioned government-free road network would operate. He had it all planned out- if I recall he had even worked out what to do when people didn’t pay their taxes road fees- police road company agents would come and make them pay, somehow.

    I was not impressed- and to be fair to Charles Murray this was a long time ago so perhaps I’m remembering his plan poorly.

    But it seems to me that we’ve discovered just how well Murray’s scheme would worked in actual practice. That is, pretty well- until the people running Big Road discovered they could keep people they didn’t like from driving, even if they had already paid.

    I find that Big Tech somehow has the ability to discriminate against people they don’t like utterly unacceptable, so much so that it convinces me that the Libertarianism as envisioned by people such as Charles Murray is a simply a non-starter. I note Big Tech has myriad financial incentives not to discriminate against conservatives- which is supposed to stop this sort of behavior- but it has not. They’re quite happy to leave money on the table, as long as they can silence their enemies.

    As far as I can discern Libertarians have no real answer for this, alas. Sorry, Charles Murray.

    My take- it’s time for the armed might of the state to force Big Tech to cease their vile discrimination against conservatives and others, whether Big Tech likes it or not.

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  9. Xennady:
    My take- it’s time for the armed might of the state to force Big Tech to cease their vile discrimination against conservatives and others, whether Big Tech likes it or not.

    I am not an economist but just from a layman’s viewpoint corporate power at this level is dangerous when used this way. I have often thought that one of the major negatives of incorporation is all the influence that gets wielded and the protections provided. Large national and international corporations have a lot to say about how America operates politically and this process seemed to change the whole concept underlying our republic after the Civil War.

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  10. Large national and international corporations have a lot to say about how America operates politically and this process seemed to change the whole concept underlying our republic after the Civil War.

    Yes- and this problem seems to have become vastly worse in recent years. E. g., the Wall Street bailout.

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  11. Bob Thompson:

    Xennady:
    My take- it’s time for the armed might of the state to force Big Tech to cease their vile discrimination against conservatives and others, whether Big Tech likes it or not.

    I am not an economist but just from a layman’s viewpoint corporate power at this level is dangerous when used this way. I have often thought that one of the major negatives of incorporation is all the influence that gets wielded and the protections provided. Large national and international corporations have a lot to say about how America operates politically and this process seemed to change the whole concept underlying our republic after the Civil War.

    When M. Zuckerberg testified to the House Committee, he invited them to regulate Facebook as a public utility.

    Public utilities are usually profitable.

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  12. There are a ton of news articles up about the Synagogue shooting.   Many of them mention the perp’s anti-Jewish posts at Gab.   Hardly any of them include the punishment that Gab is getting.

    The Atlantic and the Washington Post both have articles up that focus on the perp’s Gab account.  Both of them call Gab a “white supremacist sanctuary.”   Of course white supremacists are on Gab, since Gab is the largest platform that will let them spout their hateful bile.   Gab does not endorse their hate; it simply provides a free-speech zone for all comers.   Of course, after you have been kicked off of other platforms, where else could you go?

    I agree, it seems to be to be a bad idea to prevent there being a place where these kooks can vent.   Also, I agree that I don’t like the idea of a bunch of Leftists becoming the thought police for the internet.

    If we aren’t going to regulate Google and Facebook and Twitter, then we at least need to protect access to ISP addresses.

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  13. When M. Zuckerberg testified to the House Committee, he invited them to regulate Facebook as a public utility.

    Public utilities are usually profitable.

    And I have no doubt that various lobbying firms are as I type spreading around vast sums of money to ensure that any regulation meets with the approval of facebook and facebook’s shareholders, lest bad things happen to the beloved stock market.

    About making Facebook a public utility- nope. There is no reason that company needs a government mandate to continue to exist, period, which is no doubt what Zuckerberg wanted.

    I suggest the government use existing fraud statutes to bankrupt Facebook, because fraud is illegal. I have read that Facebook has been vastly overestimating the number of page views for its advertising, based upon its own made-up method of calculating them, and thus vastly overcharging its customers for advertising, which is a fancy way of describing fraud.

    If the United States still operated under the Rule of Law, when that became public Facebook would have immediately attracted law-enforcement attention, which would have caused its stock price to rocket into the basement, which would saved Zuckerberg from making a fool of himself in front of Congress, because he would be on his way to jail.

    But none of this would have happened in the first place, because Facebook wouldn’t have schemed to defraud its customers, for fear of law-enforcement- and if Facebook did exist, it would be a very different company.

    When this sort of behavior happened in the 1930s, Wall Street execs were sent away to Sing-Sing, and Congress enacted the famous Glass-Steagall Act to prevent it from happening again.

    Lately, Wall Street got itself a bailout and the repeal of Glass-Steagall- and slightly before that, it got the bankruptcy reform act of 2005, which was the fist time I can recall thinking the GOP wasn’t on my side. Silly of me, I know.

    I think this is the sort of thing Bob Thompson was thinking about when he commented above.

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  14. The noose is tightening on freedom of conservative speech throughout the Western word, faster than I could have previously imagined. I note the European Court of Human Rights conveniently limits speech in deference to Islam, clearly, because it is mainstream in that political system/religion to act violently in response to disliked speech. Freedom of speech, even if not a moral value (I believe it is) is a very practical one. Think pressure cooker. Stopper the relief valve and explosions inevitably result.

    I can readily foresee that continued stifling of speech of our entire end of the political spectrum (while, as has been shown in this thread, doing nothing about Farrakhan’s regular anti-semitic slurs) will justify violent responses – and I am not talking about just the fringes and the crazies. I mean concerted, organized and effective action by thoughtful, patriotic people who believe it is worth their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” when persuasion through communication with others is made “illegal.” Such people, whose religion is liberty, are also quite capable of mainstreaming violence and normalizing it, now that the precedent of excusing violence in response to speech has been set by enlightened courts of the West. Expect others to play by that set of rules.

    We have become so jaded as a culture that most have forgotten the lengths to which our ancestors went to secure the rights we are frittering away in a single generation. Once established, a modern, digital tyranny in our efficient surveillance state could well last until the well-aimed coronal mass ejection or extinction-level asteroid puts us out of our misery. And it will be misery in the coming progressive utopia, unless brave people act definitively to abort it. Eminently-manipulable electronic voting machines will not save us; progressive corruption is already too entrenched and has gone too far for that. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” eerily captures the ethos of our ominous times. Such is the danger we are in when speech – the first among all natural rights – is violently curtailed by the state. All things are then possible.

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  15. civil westman:
    “Eminently-manipulable electronic voting machines will not save us”

    One cannot comment after Ratburger’s Dalrymple. 😉 I can just say : *comprobo*, i.e. “I fully approve”. Anyway, on the minor topic of voting machines, these two papers and discussions from Bruce Schneier’s site might interest a few people :

    schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/04/securing_electi_1.html

    schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/10/west_virginia_u.html

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  16. You are all the focusing on the wrong thing. Tech may be shutting down free speech but that is because their customer base is encouraging it.

    Stop blaming corporations! They have no ideological beliefs but to make the donuts and that is as it should be. I don’t need any company to tell me how to think; the corps are only reflecting their base.

    A friend who once worked for McDonald’s Corp told me I wouldn’t recognize the menu in Central America; that is because companies exist to provide services that will sell to their customer base.

    Facebook is my favorite example. I would be as willing to pay for an account than cut off my right arm, but I will gladly take my earnings from them. Mark Z may be a liberal but this conservative just bought a new custom house from my earnings. As for Twitter, I bought it six months ago, sold it and just paid for my new living room furniture.

    Who’s winning here?

    Answer: Capitalists

    You want free speech? Then follow the lead of Fox.

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  17. We disagree. I suspect a large percentage of users desire free speech, but censor themselves, sensing that they are powerless. As well, I am talking primarily about the state criminalizing speech. That is the stuff revolutions are made of and I hope your nice home furnishings and other surroundings survive what is coming. I am also a capitalist and a materialist. There are things, however, I value more.

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  18. I have my own WordPress blog, and I have been pretty incendiary there at times.  So far, no one has tried to shut down my blog.  I have considered getting more incendiary to see what happens (like doing a post entitled “I am a White Nationalist”).  Actually, I am both white and a nationalist (if that means supporting and standing up for my country).  I know that the people who run Automattic are big lefties, but I’ve never been disturbed by them for anything.  Yet.

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  19. RB49:
    I’ve never been disturbed by them for anything. Yet.

     

    The key word is yet.

    First they came for Alex Jones and I did not speak out because I didn’t like Alex Jones.

    Then they came for Gab and I did not speak out because I didn’t use Gab.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    I also have one observation to make about conservatives who acquiesce in the social media companies’ censorship. The film Le Chagrin et la Pitié (The Sorrow and the Pity) deals with, among other things, French collaborators during WWII. Things did not go well for them after the war.

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  20. drlorentz:

    RB49:
    I’ve never been disturbed by them for anything. Yet.

     

    The key word is yet.

    First they came for Alex Jones and I did not speak out because I didn’t like Alex Jones.

    Then they came for Gab and I did not speak out because I didn’t use Gab.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    I also have one observation to make about conservatives who acquiesce in the social media companies’ censorship. The film Le Chagrin et la Pitié (The Sorrow and the Pity) deals with, among other things, French collaborators during WWII. Things did not go well for them after the war.

    Who knows something good might come out of this. It might wake up a sleeping giant. Luckily the ACLU will take up this case, right?

    What ever happened to more speech to counteract bad speech. Now people are to wimpy to handle any speech they don’t like. “Hate speech” is used to shut people you disagree with.

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