At the beginning of the week, we got news that Alex Jones has essentially been removed from the internet after Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify took him off their platforms. Now, Gab, a third-party social media site with the motto “Speak Freely”, has been pressured to censor a user's content after Microsoft threatened the site with takedown.
Microsoft hosts Gab on its Azure cloud service and threatened to take the site down after it received third-party complaints about posts by user Patrick Little. Microsoft told Gab founder, Andrew Torba, that he had 48 hours to “take action” against the "malicious activity" or have the website taken off Azure which would have resulted in the service being offline for weeks or months.
In a statement on the issue, Microsoft said:
“We believe we have an important responsibility to ensure that our services are not abused by people and groups seeking to incite violence. Gab.ai is of course free to choose otherwise and work with another cloud service provider or host this content itself.”
Writing on Gab, Torba told his followers of the platform's long-term plans to make itself more independent:
“Patrick stated multiple times today that he was going to delete the posts himself. Now he is playing games. He is not a man of his word, so we took action and removed both posts. We had no choice. We are actively looking into other hosting providers and our longterm goal is building our own infrastructure. Both of these will take time. Time we do not have under Microsoft’s 48 hour game. We believe this was the best decision for the longevity of the platform and the war against Silicon Valley.”
Following that statement, the official Gab Twitter account Tweeted a message from Patrick Little who said he would delete the messages but called it an act of “self censoring” and “a violation of our rights as Americans.” The incident has proved to be very interesting because even though Gab isn’t run by a big tech firm, Microsoft was still able to have its say on the matter because it hosts the site.