A national anti-hate group calls on the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate a conservative social media company and its CEO into allegations that they “intentionally aided, conspired or directed” rioters who attacked the US Capitol on January. 6.
The Anti-Defamation League published an open letter on Wednesday morning calling on authorities to investigate Gab and his CEO, Andrew Torba, saying they “may well bear some criminal responsibility for the attack.”
The move comes amid increasing pressure on social media, which serves as a petri dish for hatred and violence. In recent days, Apple, Google and Amazon have taken steps to strip conservative social media outlets of its distribution platforms amid accusations that rioters had planned aspects of their attack on its platform. Parler has declared its determination to remove content calling for violence.
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Gab is gaining momentum
While still a niche outlet, Gab has gained momentum since the election amid false allegations of fraud as President Donald Trump continues to claim he won the election. When Trump instigated his supporters to march on Capitol Hill on January 6, they acted by hitting the building.
The ADL cited a report that commentators on Gab exchanged “directions on which streets to take to avoid the police and what tools to bring to help force open the doors,” while “several people posted about carry arms in the halls of Congress “.
Torba himself told Gab on January 6 that “in a system with rigged elections, there are no longer any viable political solutions,” according to the ADL letter.
The phrase ‘there is no political solution’ is used in online accelerating white supremacist circles to advance the idea that the US system of government is rotten, democratic processes of change are futile and therefore the system should be destroyed, ”the ADL said. “This sentence considers political violence as the only valid answer.”
Gab CEO responds
The organization also reported that before the riot began, Torba said it “would be a shame for people outside to storm the Senate.”
In an email response to USA TODAY’s request for comment, Torba called for an investigation on Facebook instead and said Gab had “put an immediate end to a series of newly created accounts that threatened violence. against officials “in December.
“We have worked diligently with law enforcement and spent several weeks warning our community of this behavior and taking swift action to remove it from our platform,” Torba said in the email. “Our moderation and legal teams work tirelessly to ensure public safety. Threats of violence and illegal activity have no place on Gab.”
Gab also posted Torba’s response and a screenshot of USA TODAY’s request for comment. on Twitter.
Since Parler’s crackdown, Gab said he has seen an increase in user numbers, claiming to have seen 40 million visits last week.
Pittsburgh Synagogue Shots
Gab was first launched in 2016 and has remained online despite efforts to shut it down in 2018 after discovering the suspected gunman in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting that killed 11 people posted on the platform.
Gab was launched as an alternative to traditional platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, Twitter suspended several accounts associated with extremist groups on the same day it vowed to crack down on hate speech. The suspensions have pushed many people to Gab, which has fewer content restrictions than Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.
“We believe the future of online publishing is decentralized and open,” Gab’s website read. “We believe that social media users should be able to control their social media experience on their own terms, rather than the terms set by Big Tech.”
Users turned to Gab, as well as Speak, in part because they feared bigger platforms like Twitter would censor conservative views. However, the relaxed rules have opened the door to content such as conspiracy theories and disinformation.
Contributor: Brett Molina
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.