A Republican state senator who invested in Gab, a far-right-friendly social media platform used extensively by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, says he’s being “targeted and smeared” for his cash contribution.
State Sen. Dan Bishop (R) from Charlotte, North Carolina, publicized his investment in Gab on August 17, 2017 — five days after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville left one counter-protester dead and dozens wounded. In the immediate aftermath of the rally, Big Tech began a crackdown on white nationalists, shutting down neo-Nazi forums and booting white nationalists like Richard Spencer from fundraising platforms.
In a Facebook post on August 17, first reported by the Daily Mail, Bishop said he was fed up with the “Big Brother routine” of the San Francisco tech giants. “I just invested in a free speech social network startup mentioned in a Washington Post article today, Gab.ai,” Bishop wrote. “Free markets are the answer to many kinds of tyranny.”
Fallout was swift and on Wednesday, Bishop addressed the controversy, claiming he had done nothing wrong. In a statement on his Twitter account, he said he didn’t personally use Gab and was confused why his $500 investment was being targeted in the last days of an election campaign.
— Sen. Dan Bishop (@jdanbishop) October 31, 2018
“I don’t use Gab but if management allows its users to promote violence, anti-Semitism and racism on its platform they certainly have misled investors and will be gone quickly and rightfully so,” he said. “Why I’m being targeted and smeared by a British tabloid for a $500 investment in the final days of a campaign I have no clue.”
In the last year, Gab has become the go-to platform for white nationalists, with far-right figures like Chris Cantwell, Jason Kessler, and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin all regularly posting on there. The platform, however, has been under immense pressure over the last week since it emerged that Robert Bowers, the man accused of murdering 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue last Saturday, regularly posted vile, anti-Semitic content on Gab.
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered,” Bowers wrote on Gab minutes before the massacre. “Screw your optics I’m going in.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Gab’s domain provider, Joyent, along with payment processor PayPal, both dropped Gab over violation of terms of service, triggering a furious temper tantrum from Gab’s founder Andrew Torba. Gab has stated on Twitter that it has found a new domain provider and will be transitioning to it shortly, but that the site would likely remain offline in the meantime.