The anti-censorship social media platform Gab.ai has become the latest victim of widespread social media censorship. The news of the domain issue came less than 24 hours after the social media company filed a law suit against Google, alleging that the tech giant had violated anti-trust laws.
Although Gab appears to have secured a new domain, it is the latest example of the increasing backlash against independent media from large tech companies. The rapid pace of censorship across social media platforms is of concern to everyone from all political affiliations who value freedom of speech and independent voices in media.
Though legacy media has framed this issue as one of Neo-Nazis using an alternative right wing website, it is important to recognize that Google has also censored the left-leaning outlet Counterpunch. Youtube has also come under fire recently for demonetizing content creators from across the political spectrum.
Gab stated via twitter: “Gab’s domain registrar has given us 5 days to transfer our domain or they will seize it. The free and open web is in danger.” Gab also pointed out the fact that the issue with their domain had occurred less than a day after their law suit against Google was filed. As of today, Gab stated via twitter that “Update: Gab has secured our domain away from Asia Registry.”
Gab had been notified of the domain issue less than 24 hours after filing a lawsuit against Google for allegedly violating anti-trust laws. The Washington Post reported the words of Gab CEO Andrew Torba on the suit:
“Google is the biggest threat to the free flow of information… Gab started to fight against the big tech companies in the marketplace, and their monopolistic conduct has forced us to bring the fight to the courtroom.”
Further explaining the impetus for the suit, he told the Washington Post: “Imagine if a private corporation owned all the highways and they decided to close them down whenever they feel like it — that is what it’s like. You cannot deny people a fundamental staple of the Internet.”
In the wake of the news from Asia Registry, Torba told Breitbart that “This action from Asia Registry, just days after our lawsuit with Google was filed, is unprecedented. We have acted in good faith with Asia Registry and had no problems up until we raised our funding round and launched our lawsuit against Google.”
Julian Assange also responded to Gab’s plight, writing: “anti-censorship” Twitter alternative “gab.ai” discovers the dangers of using Australia during the current Western pro-censorship hysteria.” Assange has long warned of the danger posed by Google becoming enmeshed with the deep state.
Though most legacy press frame this issue as affecting primarily extreme conservatives, many anti-establishment progressives have expressed serious concern with what they also view as rampantly escalating censorship.
Counterpunch wrote of Google’s censorship of left-leaning media: “Under its new so-called anti-fake-news program, Google algorithms have in the past few months moved socialist, anti-war, and progressive websites from previously prominent positions in Google searches to positions up to 50 search result pages from the first page, essentially removing them from the search results any searcher will see. CounterPunch, World Socialist Website, Democracy Now, American Civil liberties Union, Wikileaks are just a few of the websites which have experienced severe reductions in their returns from Google searches”.
That Google and social media giants like Youtube would actively censor views and ad revenue from contrasting political ideologies, is deeply troubling. It suggests that the framing of free speech as a concern to only the extreme right is a serious misrepresentation of censorship which is occurring across the board.
The Washington Times reported that Diamond & Silk, an extremely popular conservative channel run by Lynnette Hardway and Rochelle Richardson of North Carolina, had an estimated 95% of their content demonetized by youtube. The pair have 89,000 subscribers on YouTube and another 361,000 on Twitter. Clearly this is an issue that effects independent voices from all perspectives, which is extremely concerning in terms of the likely future of free speech on social media.
Gab is far from the first to experience severe censorship in recent months. Many have become concerned regarding Youtube’s severe demonetization of content creators from across the political spectrum.
The issue has affected many independent media commentators, including HA Goodman, Tim Black, Hard Bastard and others. Redacted Tonight also covered the issue, discussing Google’s censorship of Counterpunch as well as the Youtube demonetization of Diamond & Silk.