Microsoft has threatened to pull its webhosting services for social network Gab after complaints over anti-Semitic posts that incited genocide and torture of Jews.
The tech giant’s cloud-computing division, Azure, said it would act in 48 hours if Gab will not remove two “malicious” posts that led to the complaint, a Gab.ai post says.
Microsoft said, “We have concluded that this content incites violence, is not protected by the First Amendment, and violates Microsoft Azure’s acceptable use policy.”
“Our policies rightly prohibit this type of content, and we expect Gab.ai to abide by these policies if it wishes to use our service. Gab.ai is of course free to choose otherwise and work with another cloud service provider or host this content itself.”
Often dubbed as “the alt-right’s very own Twitter,” Gab.ai runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing service.
Microsoft said it will give Gab.ai ample time to move content to other providers if it chooses to migrate. After 48 hours, it will terminate its access to Azure cloud services.
The tech industry has imposed an iron fist over the past few months against hate speech online. What started with social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, has spilled over webhosting service providers of smaller sites.
Co-founded by Andrew Torba in 2016, Gab.ai has been trying to control extreme, offensive speech on its service. Some high-profile right-wing Twitter users have built their presence on the platform.
Some of Gab’s content have led Apple and Google to block the former’s smartphone app in the two app stores.
Outraged Gab.ai users published virulently anti-Semitic posts of their own after news on Microsoft’s threats.
The user behind the two posts in the complaint—about the vandalism of Holocaust memorial museums and the discussions on torturing Jews—says he will delete the posts.
“To the lying, sophist, mainstream media political activists who call themselves ‘journalists’ reaching out: we are not doing ANY interviews with Fake News,” Gab.ai co-founder Andrew Torba posted from the site.
Microsoft’s decision follows the suspension of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from Facebook and YouTube on Monday after some of his posts violated their policies. The moves are the centerpiece of debates about free speech online and policies against hateful, offensive content.
Microsoft’s Full Statement
Microsoft received a complaint about specific posts on Gab.ai that advocate ‘ritual death by torture’ and the ‘complete eradication’ of all Jews. After an initial review, we have concluded that this content incites violence, is not protected by the First Amendment, and violates Microsoft Azure’s acceptable use policy. Microsoft notified Gab.ai of this substantial concern and advised that it remove this content or respond to Microsoft within 48 hours, or potentially risk suspension of its service on Azure.
We believe we have an important responsibility to ensure that our services are not abused by people and groups seeking to incite violence against others. Our policies rightly prohibit this type of content, and we expect Gab.ai to abide by these policies if it wishes to use our service. Gab.ai is of course free to choose otherwise and work with another cloud service provider or host this content itself. If it wishes to make that choice, we will provide it with a reasonable amount of time, in this instance longer than 48 hours, to transition its content elsewhere before its access to Azure is terminated. But we will stand by our policy and insist that Gab.ai remove what is unlawful and hateful content.