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Microsoft could suspend cloud hosting for Gab

A sign with the Microsoft logo and name in front of a low-slung office building
Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The founder of Gab, a social network favored by some on the far right, said it had deleted two anti-Semitic posts from a user after Microsoft told it Thursday that failure to do so would imperil its ability to continue to be hosted by the giant's Azure cloud service.

The big picture: Online platforms like Facebook and YouTube have faced a slew of controversies over removing users who engage in hate speech. But the hosts and service providers for individual websites and software systems can crack down, too.

The details: The posts in question come from Patrick Little, a neo-Nazi who attempted a Senate run in California, according to a screenshot of a message from Microsoft that Gab posted. Gab founder Andrew Torba said Thursday night on the platform that after Little had promised to delete the posts, and then hadn't done so, the "took action and removed both posts."

It came after Microsoft had told the site it would pull its cloud hosting services if it didn't address the situation.

  • "Microsoft received a complaint about specific posts on Gab.ai that advocate ‘ritual death by torture’ and the ‘complete eradication’ of all Jews," the company said in a statement. "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."
  • Gab had 48 hours from when it was notified to "remove this content or respond to Microsoft."

What they said: "Gab.ai is of course free to choose otherwise and work with another cloud service provider or host this content itself," the company said. "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."

The backdrop: Many digital platforms have recently banned Alex Jones' InfoWars, which has promoted conspiracy theories for years. Gab itself was started by far-right users unhappy with content moderation and user bans on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the statement from Gab's Andrew Torba that the site had removed Little's posts.