The social media platform Gab, which has become a haven for white nationalists and the far-right, was told by its payment processing company, Stripe, that it would be barred from doing business with them unless it addressed violations of the company’s Services Agreement.
Gab, founded in 2016 by Andrew Torba as a “free speech alternative” to sites like Facebook and Twitter, was informed by Stripe on Wednesday that it needed to change its Terms of Service to ensure “adult or illegal content cannot be… otherwise distributed through the Gab service.”
Stripe added that “reasonable controls” needed to be added to ensure users abide by the Terms of Service.Gab described Stripe’s actions as a “targeted attack” on Twitter, where it is still allowed to post.
BREAKING: @stripe has frozen https://t.co/J3RftnOEqv's account and given us until Oct 19th to remove any and all legal adult content from the site (which they know is impossible.) We've had this content and a NSFW setting for two years with no issues from them until now. pic.twitter.com/rZAzL3eNEl
— Gab (@getongab) October 3, 2018
Torba has marketed Gab as a 1st Amendment-friendly way to stand up up to the “robber barons” of Silicon Valley who censor online freedom of speech. But in reality, the site acts as a haven for the far-right, routinely featuring virulently racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic content. Chris Cantwell, also known as the “Crying Nazi,” “Unite the Right” organizer Jason Kessler, and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin are all regular posters on Gab.
It is unclear precisely what Stripe was referring to regarding “adult or illegal content.” While it could refer to something more mundane like pornography, Gab is also a cesspool of images and videos that celebrate violence, including threats against journalists, domestic terror groups, and a large cache of ISIS propaganda.
Stripe did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ questions regarding the violations.
Payment processing companies have largely flown under the radar when it comes to taking a public stance against far-right hate. As ThinkProgress and Right Wing Watch have previously documented, Stripe has been servicing payments from neo-Confederate groups like the League of the South, and far-right “intellectual” groups like Occidental Quarterly, in addition to Gab. Stripe did not respond at the time to requests for comment from ThinkProgress and Right Wing Watch.
Other white nationalists, meanwhile, have gotten more creative in skirting around payment processors’ regulations. In June, for example, ThinkProgress reported on the way Kessler and Cantwell were using a tiny law firm in California to funnel money to them via PayPal.
There are some encouraging signs, however. Earlier in September, PayPal stopped doing business with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars, a major blow to Jones considering it previously handled all transactions for Infowars’ online stores. On Tuesday, Jones announced his decision to sue, arguing that PayPal’s decision was “viewpoint discrimination” since it was “well known that large tech companies… are discriminating against politically conservative entities and individuals.”