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GoDaddy to suspend domain name Gab.com tomorrow (twitter.com)
113 points by daenz on Oct 29, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments

Ignoring the offending content in question: What does a registrar have to do with the content of the website the domain points to? They are not hosting the content themselves, nor are they even pointing to it (assuming private nameservers are used).

I don't see any grounds on which godaddy could reasonably claim policy jurisdiction over objectionable content they do not actively host themselves. To me, this seems like a conservative phone company bricking users phones because they've been used to watch porn. If the hosted content is illegal, they should be reported to authorities. If it is not, godaddy should act like the transparent utility service that it is and not intervene.

Am I wrong in my line of thinking?

It's freedom of association. Except for groups who faced historical discrimination and so are protected by law, businesses are not obliged to provide services to anybody the don't want to. Anti-Semites are not a protected class.

The analogy you make, a phone company, doesn't really work. Because of their natural monopoly status, phone companies are obliged to provide common carrier status: they can't arbitrarily interfere between two network users. The ISP equivalent is of course net neutrality, which also doesn't apply here, because domain registration is not a natural monopoly.

Is a domain registration not a natural Monopoly? I was under the impression that if I wanted to but a domain name I would have to do it through a domain register. Is there a way that I can get a .com domain directly from the US government?

> the US government

Actually, ICANN. But it's still a single entity at the top. And IIRC they don't register names by themselves.

Registrars are not a monopoly, though. I've read that in theory, you can even become one for yourself: https://www.thesitewizard.com/domain/register-with-icann-san...

> Anti-Semites are not a protected class.

Even if they were, would that matter?

Civil Rights Act of 1964:

> All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

GoDaddy is not a restaurant, hotel, or any other "public accommodation" business as defined by law.

AFAIK, GoDaddy could also discriminate against Jewish customers (which is a protected class) all day long and not be in violation of federal U.S. law

There is a fair amount of case law establishing online businesses as place of public accommodation.

If that were true -- and it's not -- online businesses would also be subject to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Such lawsuits have been attempted, but AFAIK without success.

Generally they settle those cases but judges think it’s likely enough for them to be places of accommodation to proceed. A website acts as if the ADA doesn’t apply at their peril.



I wonder how far this will eventually extend. For example, what about websites that have games on them (flash, html5, etc.)? What about websites that host game clients to be downloaded? MUDs could be decently accessible, but most games aren't at all accessible.

Reasonableness is generally a part of determining accommodations for disabilities. For many games, there are no reasonable steps to make them accessible to someone with a sensory or mobility impairment. But there are also reasonable steps that can be taken, like captions for recorded dialog for the hearing impaired or color/pattern alternatives for people with color vision deficiencies (I don't think color vision deficiency meets the legal definition of a disability but it's still something to keep in mind).

A site that offers games to download can be very accessible but the games themselves might not be and don't have to be; not every product a store sells has to be usable by every potential customer. That's not a reason to not make the site accessible; e.g. a disabled parent should be able to download a game for their non-disabled child.

Yup you're wrong, because they have a financial relationship. And Utility law doesn't affect the internet at all.

Yep, according to the 2017 FCC net neutrality ruling, the Internet is no longer regulated as a utility.

Even then, only ISPs were to be regulated like utilities. Registrars were not in scope.

Like most things, I assume it's more about money than ideology

GoDaddy is a big corporation employing an army of lawyers who can't be happy about the potential liability of enabling risky services like Gab.

When Gab is inevitably sued for negligence or whatever else is coming, they'll just poof and be gone, and the big fish with deep pockets like GoDaddy don't want to be left holding the bag.

You're wrong at a couple of points:

- GoDaddy isn't a transparent utility service, it's a for-profit business

- You seem to think GoDaddy needs a reasonable claim on their jurisdiction... customers agree to their TOS, which usually is very much in the provider's favour and allows the provider to do anything they want without requiring justification.

Your example scenario should be something more like "The customer is using their phone to organise a terrorist attack on American soil, should the telco brick the phone", because that is a much closer analogy to the present situation.

Yes, you're wrong.

>godaddy should act like the transparent utility service that it is

Look, found the false assumption!

No you are not wrong at all. They are exercising editorial control and Gab has not even been charged in connection with any crime, much less convicted of anything.

“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

^^^ (guess the right-wing nutjob being quoted)

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think it's time for the US government to step up and provide its citizens with minimal tax-funded government-managed hosting and domain services, for people to say whatever lawful speech that they want, without being censored. It's becoming clearer that the public sphere for speech is now online, and that space is managed only by private companies. If we want principles like free speech to continue, we need to segment some of that sphere to be funded and protected by the government.

I say all this, because I believe both that a) yes, these private companies should be able to do what they want WRT who they associate with and b) online is the new "public space" for voices to be heard, which is currently only occupied by private companies. If you believe private companies shouldn't be able to buy up all the public land, then I think you would support something like this. The internet is the new public land, but it is theoretically infinite, and for some reason it's only occupied and controlled by private companies.

> If we want principles like free speech to continue, we need to segment some of that sphere to be funded and protected by the government

This is diametrically opposed to the First Amendment’s intent. Nobody is entitled to spout garbage. Or associate with those who do. What we are entitled to is protection from the government in respect of the garbage we spout. (And, protection from the government for assembling, or choosing not to assemble, with those who spout what we believe to be garbage.)

>What we are entitled to is protection from the government in respect of the garbage we spout.

With the implication being that only the government can legally stop you while you're in a public space. If there are no public spaces, what does it matter if the government can't legally touch you, if a private entity legally can? We have to ensure publicly-owned spaces exist for free speech to exist.

> only the government can legally stop you while you're in a public space

Its meaning is closer to the opposite than to this.

> If there are no public spaces

The public space is deeper and more easily-accessible than ever before. Nazis aren’t having trouble distributing their message—Gab will find another registrar. Society, on the other hand, is having difficulty responding. The threat from the latter eclipses the former.

>The public space is deeper and more easily-accessible than ever before.

The internet is not a public space. But the argument I'm making is that part if it should be. The Nazis have only been online with hosting and registrars through the blind eyes of the private company gatekeepers. Actions like what is happening to Gab, while morally and logically defensible ("they're nazis and its private companies"), are proving that these spaces are not public, and owned entirely by private entities with their own rules. Rules that may be in your favor today, but not tomorrow.

The internet is a vast resource, and we can all see it's where public discussion actually takes place. Companies can and should run their parts of it. But there should also be a part delegated to citizens and protected by the principles we claim to want to uphold.

The First Amendment isn't free speech. It secures your right to free speech, but the spirit of free speech has nothing to do with any government. Every government should facilitate people's right to free speech, not just protect them from retaliation from the government.

> This is diametrically opposed to the First Amendment’s intent.

No, it wasn't.

The assumption at the time was _money_ was the only barrier to distribution. Much like the reasoning behind Citizen's United (as much as I loathe that decision).

And the problem here isn't really the OP, but the fact I find it scary people are happy with the idea that they are comfortable with Visa/Mastercard/Amex being able to deplatform _anyone_ on the internet in the US.

And before you claim that is hyperbole keep in mind:

A) They've cut other companies ability to process credit cards for speech-related reasons.

B) Any registrar or hosting company would cease to exist if they did this. The only real exceptions are Amazon & Google who could realistically defend themselves due to size. And given both are willing to de-platform the same types of people the credit card companies will, it has been a non-issue to date.

So yeah, I'm not comfortable with that. It isn't that I'm a fan of Nazis and Racists. Its this constant attack on free speech isn't "just" about Nazis and Racists. Its about words on the internet that offend people.



I'd much prefer a situation where first amendment protections were built into financial processing, domains, etc.

I think I agree, but I think for somewhat different reasons.

I think that the government has a duty to provide the existence of town halls/squares where people are free to gather and talk and collaborate and even be ignored or ridiculed for what they say.

I think that providing, at the bare minimum, Internet access and domain registration, might be the 21st century version of this.

I don't hold this position strongly. I haven't thought this through a whole lot.

I think he internet is already that public space. Hosting a web page is approximately free already, and if we restore Net Neutrality, then ISPs are obliged to shuffle bits between any two consenting on-net individuals.

I think the government should firmly stay out of hosting. If they become a dominant player, then government interference will become a major threat to free speech. And if they don't, then in practice the only people who can't find hosting anywhere will be the worst of the worst, so it will be a government-sponsored 4chan. I have no interest in using my tax dollars to pay to distribute content, as here, from murderous anti-Semites.

Freedom of speech just means that the government won't stop you talking. It doesn't mean the government has an obligation to build you a free megaphone.

There is a case going to the supreme court right now, which may help determine if speech is an acceptable protected criteria (you can't refuse to server people based on race or sex if you own a business, except for very specific circumstances, but everything else is pretty much fair game).

Because the sorts of people posting on Gab are gonna be all over a service literally run by the NSA

What? By this logic, the government should have funded printing presses. Gab.com is going to find another provider. They are unhinged and no private entity is required to serve them.

Also, this XKCD: https://www.xkcd.com/1357/

Isn't that the OP's point? What if no accredited .com registrar wants to serve them for fear of being criticized in the media?

Gab would be SOL and lose the ability to meaningfully exist on the internet. Why are private companies the gatekeepers to being able to express yourself online, all of a sudden?

Domain registration that is immune to knee-jerk responses like GoDaddy's would be nice. I am reminded of the time that GoDaddy revoked that "fake" Stripe EV cert (https://stripe.ian.sh/) because of media reporting, even though it was acceptable under the CABF EV guidelines. In other words, arbitrary.

At some point we have to consider that internet exists because of the government. Where that is can be debated, but without government enforcing certain regulations and restrictions, the internet wouldn't exist. The companies that benefit directly from those regulations and restrictions should have the First Amendment apply to them, or else the regulations and restrictions should be removed.

Take the physical wires. They only exist spread everywhere because the government forced people to accept them and allowed companies to run wires over or under public land. At that point, the companies not benefiting from those wires are no longer fully private institutes.

No, you are missing my point. The government doesn't need to fund printing presses or domain registrars because (a) there are tons of providers for these services (b) in general it is really cheap (c) you can find providers in nearly all cases. In some cases, a particular registrar won't support you (Go Daddy in this case). But that's their right. And Go Daddy would have continued to support them if Gab.com weren't engaging in particularly harmful activity.

And when Verisign (the registry operator for .com) decide that they no longer want [some undesirable domain] registered at all, where then? Go hopping between TLDs/ccTLDs? What about when ICANN gets dragged into the politics of all of this? Or recursive DNS resolvers like

I'm not saying I agree exactly with the OP's solution, but domain registration in many ways has the characteristics of a public utility, and I share their concern about it being subject to arbitrary value judgements.

I've been using the internet since 1200bps modems and private companies have always dictated what gets shown on the internet.

I have never been free to put child pornography or guides on how to make bombs anywhere I liked.

That is because those things are illegal. Until saying Nazi ideology becomes illegal there should be a place for them in order to ensure free speech.

Well, so it finally happened. The Rubicon has been breached.

One of the great things about the Internet, up until recent times, has been the relative neutrality of the infrastructure. No matter who you were, it was fairly easy to set up shop as long as your content was not super illegal. In general, you could count on having your host back you up unless you were incredibly controversial, and it was out of the question that a mainstream US provider would drop your .com name! A US-hosted .com was a "gold standard" you could count on.

The first indication that things were changing was the DMCA. But for all its faults, at least it has a process. This new political "anything goes" trend is going to be awful for anyone not already in the Fortune 500. But I guess that's the point, isn't it?

The useful idiots standing by these actions are going to be shocked, SHOCKED when the political winds shift and their favorite site is suddenly forced off the net by tech oligarchs. Do you really think this won't get turned against left-leaning/anti-war sites the moment we get into a large-scale conflict again? But I guess that's the point, too, isn't it!!

I'm appalled that anyone on the left who remembers the GWB "with us or against us" era of politics would support this kind of politicization of our infrastructure. The left would NEVER have been able to elect Obama without being able to organize on a free and open Internet!

This kind of action is killing what little remains of the open Internet! And all for a petty, temporary victory over a fringe political group! What are you throwing away???

Except the actual left has been complaining about centralised capitalist control of the media for decades. Indeed, it's precisely because of that control that you've apparently never heard anything other than liberal centrists talking about access to speech.

>This new political "anything goes" trend is going to be awful for anyone not already in the Fortune 500. But I guess that's the point, isn't it?

Yes of course. Welcome to Capitalism.

When the system starts to break down from the inevitable inequality it causes, capitalists turn to fascism to maintain control. It happened in the Weimar Republic, and it's happening again now. We're seeing business news outlets openly talking about the "investment opportunities" in Brazil as a result of the election of an overt fascist.

>And all for a petty, temporary victory over a fringe political group!

The left celebrates this, not because the control is good, but because the threat of fascism has become so overt that this is the best we can hope for right now.

Access to speech has indeed been a problem; there were plenty of court cases about it in the 2000s. What is new, at least in my awareness, is a breakdown in access to infrastructure. Many (though not all) hosts/registrars/etc were built by ideological libertarians who had an absolutist free speech bent. Sites seemed more likely to encounter resistance from the government and big corporations than from their providers. Now the providers are big corporations, and they have close ties with the government!

A prime example is rotten.com. They faced plenty of C&Ds and government lawsuits, but it looks like they weren't forced into self-hosting until 2014 based on some quick research. Rotten was 1000x worse than Infowars, Gab, or even 4chan, but it was a protest site of sorts and an important free speech canary. (It's dead now, obviously.)

Can you give some examples of leftist sites being booted from their hosts in the 2000s? Maybe I'm not aware of them. WSWS, for instance, seems to be hosted by Godaddy currently, and that's about as left as you can get. Wikileaks is an example of an (IMHO) non-partisan site that has faced troubles, but that's because they actively leaked classified intel about ongoing conflicts. Cyptome faced some government pushback in the 2000s for leaking less controversial material, but they were hosted with Network Solutions in 2012, and now with Web.com.

The sad truth is lefties are mostly irrelevant these days, shifting the overton window far to the right. When have you last heard significant people someone talking nationalizing industries?

A few hippies or blue-haired university students are no threat to any ones lives. (Near-)fascists taking over countries is. As usual, people take action not because of some principle, but because a problem got so bad it cannot be ignored anymore. And as usual, it might already be too late...

>the actual left has been complaining about centralised capitalist control of the media for decades

Cool. How does the "real" left feel about speech these days?

>The left celebrates this, not because the control is good, but because the threat of fascism has become so overt that this is the best we can hope for right now.

Oh. It's a special case because things are so bad _right now_. The same justification as in every instance of abridging speech we later come to regret.

I’m an observant Jew. I’ve never considered posting a comment on here before.

Despite disliking the anti-Semitic speech hosted on sites like gab, silencing them this way puts a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, their speech is hateful. Yes, these are private entities that are well within their rights to refuse service.

But that’s not the point.

At the moment, a majority agrees this type of speech is unacceptable. But what’s next? Maybe next time it’s speaking against google or anything, for that matter.

The famous saying “first they came for the X..., then the Y..., who was left to speak for me?” Is appropriate here. I don’t condone hate speech, but just words aren’t hurting others. Until that speech becomes action or highly encourages action, it is just words.

Additionally, if the majority destroys the gathering place of the minority, they’ll just go to ground. Burying themselves deeper, re-enforcing their conspiracy theories, and polarizing them more. Our actions will be the catalyst to their radicalization.

We need to think, long and hard, before jumping on this bandwagon.

I see your point, but there is also the issue of helping to make this kind of content available. If the content is hard to find or hidden then maybe less people are exposed to it? Is that the answer? I have no idea, but to me there’s a big difference between arguing the merits of single-payor healthcare and whether or not certain people should be allowed to exist.

There are loads of racist and bigoted opinions on Facebook and Twitter, but Gab takes that to another level. The people being banned from Twitter aren’t saying things like black people have lower IQs, they’re saying they’re animals that shouldn’t exist in this country, etc. That’s not the same.

My main point is that this is a tricky subject. One that we should be very careful in regards to our actions.

If the content was so terrible on this site, why only remove it now? Why was it tolerated for so long?

Acting against gab now, seems to be more of a show than reality. All these companies are attempting to show their disdain for this behavior. But they allowed it before. And I’m sure they allow many other sources of hate to persist on their services.

Gab is a relatively new site and you might be surprised to learn that it wasn’t that well known before. But you can bet that after an event like this most companies are wanting as much distance as possible with the content of the site being in press worldwide.

Twitter allows David Duke on their platform, but he’s careful not to post the kind of things you’ll find on Gab. Twitter allows everyday racism and white supremacist speech. They do not allow you to talk about culling millions from this country violently. The difference is that Gab does and won’t remove it.

I think we should be equally careful in how we combat ideologies that lead people to and even encourage violence. Where were all of the free-speech slippery slope people when YouTube and other groups were banding together to combat ISIS recruitment on their platforms?

I suggest you read "The Paradox of Tolerance" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

Massive eye roll at the linked tweet. Acting like a company severing their service is an attack on their freedom of speech is completely crying wolf. I'm sure there are many domain registrars who will take their money. This is not a case where any speech is being chilled. Gab is making money off a platform where people are saying horrible things. Godaddy is distancing themselves because they don't want to be associated with those things. That's the cost of doing horrible business.

> That's the cost of doing horrible business.

But doesn't Twitter have many people saying horrible things? If gab is letting people talk about murdering people and not taking action, I'm fine with it - but is that the case?

Gab was explicitly started as a place for hosting things that the major platforms were, however, imperfectly, trying to get rid of. So yes, it's the case.

I get the drive. Circa 1994-2000, I was involved in bianca.com, the first web-based chat site and run with a strident free-speech ethos. Especially early on, the web was a pretty staid academic place, so a site where you could talk about anything was hugely novel.

It turns out that if you let people talk about anything but most other sites have certain restrictions, then your site will become known for what other sites don't accept. In 1994, that was porn. The founders didn't really set out to have site about sex, but by 1997, that's the category we won our Webby in. None of us were really exciting about running a sex site, so eventually we turned our attentions elsewhere.

These days the problem isn't porn; there's plenty of room for that on the internet. For places like Gab and 4chan, what they get is the world's worst people, the ones kicked off Twitter and Facebook. According to a study this year, Gab has much more hate speech than Twitter (although less than 4chan). [1] Given its history [2] it is not shocking at all that one of their ardent racists went out and killed a bunch of people. After the way Elliot Rodger was radicalized online, [3] nobody should be surprised that online hate turns into real-world violence.

[1] https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.05287

[2] https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ywxb95/gab-is-the-alt-rig...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Isla_Vista_killings#Manif...

This is easily the most succinct way of putting it. A site without restrictions or rules will quickly become a site focused on things other sites restrict. We've seen this happen time and time again with places like Gab, 4chan and Voat where without moderation they become festering pits.

It's a careful balancing act every site owner and moderator has to consider because if you're not careful the core concept of a site can quickly change and fill in the gaps your rules or moderation leaves. I've experienced this a few times personally and is why I'm always wary when people complain about censorship when they're banned or kicked off of a platform.

Yes, exactly. I once read an interview with Christopher "moot" Poole. He started 4chan when he was 15, and his intention was not to create one of the world's worst places. It was clear he eventually became unhappy devoting his life to hosting garbage, and that 4chan would never be anything else.

It turns out that

This isn't a 'it turns out that' - that's just Gab's narrative. It's a site that was built by actual bigots to provide a platform for other bigots. It's a substantial category error to equate them to any actual, principled free-speech efforts.

As I said right in my first sentence, they started out intending to host what other platforms were trying to get rid of. But I don't think they intended to host only terrible people. It's not like they kicked you out for posting something that wasn't awful.

I think their intent was as stated: to create a Twitter competitor that a lot of people used for a lot of things. Yes, they they intended to be a home for bigots. But it was never a tenable business as a place that was only a home for bigots. I just don't think they understood how their differentiator would inevitably become their whole brand.

I just asked this across the thread; are we sure this "place for ideas that Twitter won't allow" narrative isn't just part of Gab's scam?


I'm not sure the two cases are distinguishable. The best scammers believe what they're saying, even if when properly analyzed it makes no sense.

I am sure there are a lot of people who are intellectually for free speech. I'm also sure there are a lot of people who by disposition favor the dominance of certain groups that they belong to (e.g., white men). There are plenty of people in both groups, even though the position is intellectually incoherent in that maintaining dominance always involves silencing the dominated. But because they haven't done any sort of hard self-examination, they don't realize the two are in conflict.

So far it's plausible to me that Torba is that intersection, the not-very-sharp freezepeech crowd that only does anything about freedom of speech when they feel somebody like them gets yelled at. Twitter's staff was full of the "free speech wing of the free speech party" types early on, and Twitter's evolution here was a slow concession to reality.

It's surely possible that Torba in private was a goose-stepper from the get-go, and that the free speech thing was a consciously adopted cover. But if I were to bet, it'd be that he just wasn't particularly smart, and that he really believed that he could have a Twitter competitor on the basis of "freedom!", fighting those darned liberals and their hatred of free speech. Then both he and the platform gradually self-radicalized because he identified with his platform and his platform's distinguishing characteristic snowballed.

The guy identified as a lifelong "conservative Republican Christian", a segment low on self-examination and high on the ability to believe contradictory things. Around his booting from YC, he wrote, "Take your morally superior, elitist, virtue signaling bullshit and shove it. I call it like I see it, and I helped meme a President into office, cucks." For me, that puts him near the broad end of the radicalization funnel that Bellingcat described. [1] So I read Gab's progress more as the inevitable unfolding of Torba's unchecked biases, and less about an initial conscious intent to cover up explicit beliefs.

[1] https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2018/10/11/memes-in...

He's not in private a "goose-stepper". He's quite public about it. I actually object, strongly, to the way that you characterize conservative Republican Christians here. The problem isn't that Torba is conservative or Christian (he's clearly not the former and I rather doubt he's the latter). It's that he's a white supremacist. Every nun that ever taught me would have slapped me upside the head if I'd said out loud many of the things Gab.ai's Twitter account has said.

Meanwhile, the current story for the genesis of Gab does not make sense. In the Gab mythology, Gab was created as a haven for ideas Twitter determined to be too dangerous for its platform. But Twitter happily plays host to conspiracy theory, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and racism. In fact, major figures in each of those buckets of hateful thought --- from the QAnon conspiracy to Pamela Gellar and Ann Coulter to Roosh V to Richard Spencer. It's not a happenstance that these people are on Twitter; they're there because Twitter does not have a policy forbidding bigotry.

What Twitter does have is a policy against harassment and violence. But, guess what? So, ostensibly, does Gab.

What deliberate purpose then does Gab serve, other than to monetize bigotry? Gab is not Bianca's Smut Shack and Torba is not a Bianca Troll.

Object all you like; having grown up partly in the context of conservative Christianity, I stand by my statement. If you'd like to read more from others on the topic, I recommend Fred Clark and Christopher Stroop, two people who grew up evangelical and write extensively on the culture. Or you could look at how evangelical hermeneutics and policing of tribal dogmas have infected the US right over the last few decades.

Do you have particular evidence he's not a conservative or a Christian? He claimed to be both, and I haven't seen anything to think he wouldn't have met CPAC's or the Moral Majority's definitions of those terms when he claimed that.

Twitter had gradually been turning down the dial on awfulness for years. Many conservatives believe that liberal social media companies are biased against them, and many ardent free-speech types believe the platforms are far too fussy. I'm sure you and I agree that Twitter's hateful conduct policy [1] (which bans such things as "inciting fear about a protected category" and "repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone") and their enforcement of it don't go far enough. But non-insane people could also fear that a policy like that could be misapplied given how much it depends on judgment. And they might reasonably be concerned how much further the policy tightening could go.

So again, I think the claimed purpose of Gab, could well be, in a sufficiently confused mind, the actual initial intent. A large part of the US right is no stranger to outright doublethink, after all.

And thanks, but I'm aware that Gab isn't Bianca's.

[1] https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hateful-condu...

I grew up in a conservative Catholic family (though neither me nor any of my siblings ended up conservative or particularly observant) and spent most of my early life in Catholic school, and feel like I'm acquainted with the philosophy we're talking about. The bit about Torba not being Christian was a barb. The bit about him not being conservative is a straightforward observation; he's a right-wing populist. That's not the same thing at all.

I think you're wrong in attributing any kind of good faith to Gab's message about being free speech. It's white supremacist twitter, both in intent and outcome. But we don't have to keep litigating the point.

We might be talking about different kinds of conservative Christian, then. White evangelicalism is for the most part strongly authoritarian and highly dogmatic. That makes it possible for them to believe entirely contradictory things as long as it accords with the desires of the powerful. And I'd agree that most people who identify as conservative are using that term differently than I would like to, although I think that's a bit of a lost battle.

With evidence, I'd certainly believe Torba was a cryptofascist from the get-go. There are plenty of them out there "hiding their power". But I haven't seen that evidence yet, and the way his COO, Sanduja, stuck with him from founding through a few months ago, makes me think that Torba wasn't a fourteen-words type when he started.

That said, I don't think "good faith" is what I'm describing here. Right-wing doublethink requires strong compartmentalization and a refusal to reconcile one's positions and actions. If someone ardently believes in and espouses a free speech message, but only happens to put in work when it advantages white men, are they truly free speech advocates? I'd say no. Are they lying? Also no. For me "good faith" would require sufficient self-examination that they could detect and self-correct when espoused principles contradict behavior.

So it's possible to me that Torba believed in the free-speech message sufficiently to a) espouse and promote it effectively, and b) attract other people who were entirely sincere about it. But if that's the case, I also believe he was on the path of self-radicalization when he started it, and has only gone further down that road.

I think their intent was as stated

I don't see why one would think that when the evidence against is so clear. The ACLU defends Nazis in court and being a Nazi is not their whole brand. Gab's brand is what it is because they both host Nazis and sound like Nazis.

Twitter is bad at removing abusive or threatening content from their site. That's not the same as refusing to remove it.

Right, it's worse. Twitter has selectively been enforcing its ToS for years. How is removing hate speech conductive to anything but hiding the issue. Let people moderate their own feeds, and don't make people rely on archiving services to see politically significant information like a terrorist's social media history.

>How is removing hate speech conductive to anything but hiding the issue.

well for one, it makes it a slightly nicer place for the victims of that hate speech.

That is so much better handled by just letting your users control their own feed.

Reddit (among other platforms) have knowingly enabled neo-nazis and racists for years. They, like Twitter, really only react when called out publicly by media outlets with large scale distribution.

Gab is only viewed special case because the founder stupidly marketed it as a "free speech absolutist" sort of place.

Yup and so does facebook, youtube, reddit and so on.

One could argue that the Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc are also more dangerous because they allow the recruitment and radicalization of normal people. Before social media was around someone would have had to seek out a site like Stormfront. They would have had to take an active interest in these hate groups. With social media the hate comes to them and is mixed in with all the usual cat pictures and memes. This serves to normalize hate and creates an easy avenue to recruit disenfranchised people who might never have previously been exposed to this type of thing pre-social media.

One could also argue that twitter, reddit and facebook also discourage people from joining hate groups and so on. All of these platforms can be used for good or bad. Maybe someone was a jew hater before but then they watch a documentary about Israel and realize that the jews aren't so bad etc. That same person might also watch a documentary about hate groups and realize they are a member of one and decide to make a positive change in their life.

Sure, these platforms can be used for both good and evil. But I don't see how that is relevant to my point. You don't have to allow the evil just so people can continue to do good. Or are you arguing that people are drawn to Twitter by the hate groups and are then recruited away by good Twitter users and those converts outnumber the number of people that the hate groups are able to recruit through Twitter?

What I see is mostly positive actions being done to counter the negatives. If someone makes hate speech then there are people who counter it by saying it is wrong and so on.

The bigger issue I see is if when these communities become echo chambers which I think is far more toxic. Now if Gab was removing speech that was against hate speech then I think that is a major issue. I see this issue happening more on Reddit where you have community that basically have rules like "if you don't agree with xyz then you will be banned immediately." So the whole thing is an echo chamber in itself.

Also the truth is, these hate speech people aren't going to just disappear. They will persist and continue. The only solution is to counter those people, in dialogue, and keep on them about why they're wrong etc.

I think you are being naive here if you think that the hate speech on these sites is being countered by a similar amount of positive speech. You also seem to be ignoring the victims of that hate speech and the abuse they have to endure. Maybe the person sending the death threats is better under the current system than if they were quarantined off on some other site, but my sympathy rests much more with the person receiving the death threat.

Gab was specifically founded because Reddit didn’t let them say the things they like saying.

Yup but it still persists. The users just spread out into other subs and do it there as well.

That was Voat.

Gab is the same but Twitter.

But for all their bitching, they are still active on both in large numbers. Both platforms really only engage in token bans.

This argument is tiresome and insults our intelligence. Gab isn't in the spotlight because it happens to host some white supremacists, as Twitter and Facebook do. It's scrutinized because it actively courts white supremacists; it is white supremacist Twitter.

Even today, when the front page (unusually busy! during most of the day, there were at least six (6) stories circulating on "popular stories") is primarily about "save Gab", you are only ever one click away from fever-swamp racism; virtually everyone who comments there is a white nationalist. I've been screen-shotting Gab for months (I have weird hobbies) and one of the accounts I thought was a bot (Gab was overrun by bots, presumably to boost its traffic numbers and dilute the neo-Nazism) --- it posted garish landscape photos like clockwork every day --- also turned out to be a white nationalist. Seriously, even the inspirational landscape account is a Nazi on Gab.

But don't take the site's word for it. Listen to the site itself:


People have been screenshotting Gab.ai tweets for a year (they deleted the worst of them after yesterday's tragedy). It's not like there's any uncertainty about what they are.

Now, it is true that you can make a coherent argument for leaving sites like Gab and Stormfront alone; "more speech is antidote for bad speech", etc. But what you can't do is try to argue that Gab is just Twitter, and is being singled out unfairly. That's not what's happening. Even if Stormfront added a record review section and started doing in-depths on the new Kurt Vile album, we'd still all understand what Stormfront was. But fewer people know what Gab is, so it's a little bit more confusing.

Private companies like CloudFlare and GoDaddy don’t have to work with sites they don’t want to work with, any more than the sites have to allow people to post on them.

InfoWars itself would moderate its posters.

> Now, it is true that you can make a coherent argument for leaving sites like Gab and Stormfront alone; "more speech is antidote for bad speech"

A coherent one, but maybe also a wrong one. We've heard a lot less in the news about various de-platformed people. When was the last time Milo was in the news? https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjbp9d/do-social-...

I'm not even touching that argument. I wouldn't work at a company that did business with Gab, is about as much as I'd care to say about that.

I'm just saying: make whatever argument about de-platforming you want, and I won't feel much need to interject. But claim Gab and Twitter are comparable and I have a problem, because that is (a) not true and (b) exactly what Gab wants normies to believe.

It looks like you're very familiar with Gab, and I can't look into it myself while the site is inaccessible. You've argued:

  what you can't do is try to argue that Gab is just Twitter
Can you explain what systemic attributes of Gab-the-speech-platform differ from Twitter, if any? I wonder how it got to be the way you've described it to be. You said,

  it actively courts white supremacists
Could you provide an example of what you mean?

> Could you provide an example

Did you look at the linked tweets?

Sure did! I saw some criticism of Jews and Israel in there. I'm asking if GP can provide an example of

  actively courting white supremacists
which I haven't seen (haven't, and for the moment can't, look into it myself). Since GP screenshots Gab as a hobby, this should be easy.

The meaning of http://archive.is/q8Guu is utterly obvious. It is an overt white supremacist statement.

Anyone who denies that it is anti-Semitic is obviously arguing in bad faith.

OK, but anti-Semitism and white supremacy aren't the same thing (black nationalists can't be anti-Semites?), and even if they WERE the same thing, how is this an example of "actively courting white supremacists" or anti-Semites for that matter?

Let's tie it back to the original argument. It is basically argued that unlike Twitter, it's justified to deplatform Gab because their 465,000 users are "virtually everyone" white nationalists, white supremacists, and/or anti-semites (the terms are used interchangeably), and that this state of affairs is due to Gab "actively courting white supremacists".

Does Gab actively court white supremacists to join their platform? Maybe! The poster claims that he screenshots Gab as a hobby, so it should be easy to provide an example of this.

Words have meanings. "White supremacy", "White nationalism", and "anti-semitism" are not synonyms. There are very specific claims in the original argument. "Actively courts white supremacists" is a higher standard than "holds or expresses white supremacist opinions", and this claim is central to the argument justifying deplatforming Gab.

I'm commenting under my real name, in good faith.

I don't think any of us want to litigate the fine details of where anti-Semitism becomes white supremacy, but, if you take the time to go read Ken White's Twitter feed, you can find Gab mocking White for adopting non-white children.

When they suggest someone might not support free speech because they are Jewish, that's not 'some criticism of Jews and Israel'. Describing it like that is either incredibly naive or a fair bit Nazi.

See my above comment, anti-Semitism and white supremacy aren't the same thing (black nationalists can't be anti-Semites?). I'm commenting under my real name, in good faith.

Your good faith argument is that having built a site for white supremacists and Nazis and regularly using the overt, racist, anti-semitic language of white supremacists and Nazis (which you, for some inexplicable reason, choose to describe as 'criticism of Jews') the owners of Gab might, in fact, be secret adherents to the ideology of the Nation of Islam.

There's a bit in Winnie-the-Pooh in which Pooh goes home to get a jar of honey to use as bait in a Heffalump trap.

"It had HUNNY written on it, but, just to make sure, he took off the paper cover and looked at it, and it looked just like honey. “But you never can tell,” said Pooh. “I remember my uncle saying once that he had seen cheese just this colour.” So he put his tongue in, and took a large lick. “Yes,” he said, “it is. no doubt about that. And honey, I should say, right down to the bottom of the jar. Unless, of course,” he said, “somebody put cheese in at the bottom just for a joke. Perhaps I had better go a little further... just in case... in case Heffalumps don't like cheese... same as me... Ah!” And he gave a deep sigh. “I was right. It is honey, right the way down.”"

Five year olds can easily tell this is supposed to be amusing and not a description of Pooh's good-faith effort to establish the precise contents of the jar.


> There again, Semite is a category that includes many populations of which Jews are not even the largest

I have to admit, up until now I never thought I'd see anyone seriously try the "Arabs are Semites too!" argument, which is in all other circumstances a parody of message board concern trolling.

It's an aside; I put it in parentheses. It's not an argument. It's a meta-comment on how difficult it can be to use words with precision. I'm trying my best to handle a difficult conversation with civility and grace. Are you giving me the benefit of the doubt?

Not really, not anymore.

You made me sad. Hopefully we can see eye to eye some day.

Big straw-man there.

It's actually a Heffalump.

I've chosen to avoid putting labels on people based on twitter-length blurbs [...] haven't seen the full on full on overt, racist, 'final solution' type of Nazism

You know who else was not super-overt about the 'final solution' part of their Nazism? The Nazis.

> Godaddy is distancing themselves because they don't want to be associated with those things.

Would it also be reasonable for browsers also black list the website in question "because they don't want to be associated with those things"?

Sure, if they felt that was necessary to protect their image! (Or if they wanted to for any other reason, but the image idea seems most likely.) Right now, that's not an issue because all of the browsers are equally able to access all websites. So no browser's image is tarnished by providing access to Gab.

Like imagine if there were four browsers but only one could be used to access Gab.ai. And people who don't like antisemitism knew that and began threatening to boycott that browser and encourage others to do the same. It would be totally reasonable for that browser to remove support for Gab.ai at that point.

This is the difference between open source platforms and capitalistic platforms.

One is far more benign and is simply an unopinionated tool. The other has a huge power and daya asymmetry can do anything at any time, subject only to the reputational and competition constraints. And the competition needs to build everything from scratch instead of just forking.

Guess which one always wins in the end :)

As time goes on, the Atlas Shrugged argument of “but who will want to build the next thing if you limit their upside with taxes and regulations?” will be less and less relevant. I’d like to see a society where instead of John Galts we have collaborative snowballs like Wikipedia and Science where everyone adds a tiny bit without chilling effects of intellectual property lawsuits. But how will people eat? UBI.

I am afraid ruling class reads too much Ayn Rand and will never allow this. Only way is to go around. Somehow.

It always amuses me when pro-business conservatives/Republicans aren't pro-business when it hurts their feelings. Amusing isn't the right word...but I have no other way to describe it.

If GoDaddy won't handle their domain name, I'm sure some registrar in Russia would glady give them gab.ru

The .ai tld belongs to the country of Anguilla, not godaddy. They can switch registrars without switching the domain itself.

Then they should do that.

A business doesn't have to keep doing business with a customer, they are free to cut them off.

Wonderful news. There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. People are threatening and inciting violence against some target demographic, and you are only being obtuse by trying to be apathetic to that in the name of free speech.

Besides, godaddy is a private company. It is not obligated to give rights of freedom of speech to anyone.

There was a facebook livestream where a disabled man was tortured. Twitter contains horrible racism. Why is Gab measured different? It's simply free speech. Not even that by the way, since certain types of porn were recently banned.

GoDaddy is US based and in the US, you can discriminate against customers except for very specific things (race, sex, etc.)

The Colorado cake case is a weird and bad example, because it came down to people wanting him to commission art (most of that Supreme Court case was about whether or not the cake was an artistic expression, protected by the first 1st amendment). Interestingly that cake shop no longer does custom cakes, so technically they do have to sell to everyone now.

There is another Supreme Court case coming up which will address speech and platforms. This is going to be big. I wrote about this last year and I think it's really relevant today:


You might not say anything now, because you might hate Gab and think it's hate speech, but just wait for them to come to a platform you don't think is wrong, but goes against the current mindset of what people think is right.

There are too few providers and they are way too big. If AWS, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Dreamhost, etc. all deny you a platform, where are you going to go? Are you now going to pay out the ass for platforms that cater to Adult Website hosting?

So few people even visit websites anymore either, unless they're linked via Facebook/Twitter, which are both deleting things they don't agree with enmass!

Furthermore, this just pushes people more into these outlying platforms, further polarizing them to deal exclusively with ostracised people and opinions. It literally gives them more validity by censoring them (versus ignoring them)!

If the shooter had posted on Facebook instead of Gab, we wouldn't demand Facebook go down would we?

I think there are really serious implications to all of this, and many of them are not good.

I'm not sure people understand the extent to which domain names (and thus registrars & registries) are the linch pins of freedom of speech and identity right now. This, and the ongoing breakdown in the reputational barrier between consumer and service provider do not bode well at all for online freedom:


"We may terminate your access to and use of the Services, at our sole discretion, at any time and without notice to you." - Gab Terms of Service

this clause was added this week

We're in a weird place where the presence of multiple competing intermediaries (in this case DNS registrars, but you see the same thing with banks and such) leads to them not being regulated as utilities. So when every single intermediary exercises their right to refuse service to someone they end up locked out of the system but nobody's responsible.

1) Not every intermediary has exercised their right so it's a strawman argument.

2) Not sure why you bring up the utility argument. It's basically equivalent to traditional newspapers where if I write some incendiary letter to the editor I am not guaranteed that any of them will post it.

PayPal and GoDaddy terminating business with them? I must be living under a rock because I don't think I've heard of gab.com before these tweets started appearing on HN.

What exactly did they do to piss everyone off?

Twitter started banning alt-righters. Alt-righters made a Twitter clone and called it "Gab".

This weekend a dude shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Guess what social network he'd been hanging out on making lots of posts about killing Jews?

He was also on Twitter and Facebook. I guess those should be banned too. Remove the DNS, remove the merchant accounts for financial transactions, remove data center rights, etc. This is how gab.ai was attacked, so it is only fair.

Basically they created a platform for freedom of speech. The problem is that every crack pot on the internet basically flocked to the site to say very mean thing about other people. I think we all agree that hate speech is not good but outright silencing people is not the correct solution. If you want to eliminate hate speech then you need to confront the people doing the hate speech and argue with them about why they're wrong.

Many other social media sites also suffer from massive amounts of hate speech as well.

> and argue with them about why they're wrong.

It's hard to argue with people that are not even wrong. For example, some hold beliefs like "Women are subhuman and only exist to serve men and were created for that purpose."

How do you even argue against something like that?

They haven't been silenced, a business they use has decided that they no longer want to do business with them.

They can go and get another registrar, and if they need another payment provider, they can always set up one themselves, or start taking bitcoin.

> and argue with them about why they're wrong.

Does that actually work?

It can work.

It doesn't help that simple imaginary solutions that probably blame some scape goat are easy to sell compared to complicated trade-offs that marginally reduce systemic issues our society has.

The US political system practically allowing only two parties doesn't help, since it makes it easy to disregard everyone not with your team instead of having to engage with a large set of different opinions.

But you quite often see people post something like "thanks for saving me from being an alt-righter" in the community of for example twitch-streamer Destiny. He did engage alt right youtubers in discussions, but recently scaled that back somewhat... apparently having a right wing mob hate you is a real thread to your livelihood as well. He says he has still no idea why he got his permanent twitter ban... so yeah, I'd love someone to look into that...

Anyway, we are talking about the marketplace of ideas. As with any marketplace, you need marketing to sell the good (idea). Guess what kind of ideas are worth paying for? Probably the kind that will benefit those with lots of capital. And for that reason do real lefties think capitalism will eventually always end in fascism once disillusioned people demand change and only a communist revolution can save us.

I always disregarded that as stupid, but the last few years make it more and more difficult...

If that worked, we'd be seeing constant stream of ex-neo-Nazis who were frequenting Gab, turned around by argument, and stopped being neo-Nazis. Because, after all, Gab would be one of the most effective places for "de-radicalization" operation: it's filled with people ready to be logically persuaded!

Well, guess what, it doesn't happen.

I think these articles are related. I hadn’t heard of gab until now either, but after the synagogue shooting these articles brought attention to the fact that gab was one of the social media sites that the shooter frequented.



That NPR piece is particularly frustrating, because it leaves the impression that Gab sort of happened to become a white nationalist haven. But of course, Gab was founded by a dude who got kicked out of YC for harassing minorities and runs a Twitter account that posts anti-Semitic (among other things) tweets. There's nothing accidental about what Gab is.

Context for those unfamiliar with Andrew Torba: https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/12/pro-trump-ceo-gets-booted-...

Gab was founded by people who think that “freedom of speech” means they’re allowed to say what they want without consequence. They view being ushered out of the theatre for talking during a movie as censorship.

I dont think that's a good analogy. They've built their own cinema where everyone who enters agrees that they can talk during the movie. Those who disagree can continue to use their preferred cinemas with less interruption.

Surely it should be seen as a benefit for other websites that they have sequestered themselves off on their own domain?

I understand your desire to draw a better analogy, but imagine for a moment that the point of talking in a theatre is not so much to express an opinion but to cause other people discomfort or harm.

These are people who think it’s okay so shout in the streets, “death to the Jews!” Because they of course are not actually killing anyone. They don’t accept responsibility for their vocal protest encouraging someone who was already harbouring murderous thoughts to actually commit murder. They don’t accept that actions spring from ideas and ideas spring from words. They don’t accept that in a world where people aren’t actively blaming Jews for the world’s problems, the nascent anti-Semite will take no action because they are insufficiently motivated to take any action.

So in the talking in theatres analogy, the worst harm is that someone else doesn’t get to enjoy the movie. In real life the worst harm is that someone is encouraged to commit genocide.

I disagree. The idea behind sites like gab is that sites like Twitter are increasingly functioning like public spaces, but they exercise great ideological control over what one is allowed to say within those spaces. The folks behind gab and similar sites think that one should not be banned from Twitter -- that is quite different from speech without consequence. One can still be humiliated, shamed, and socially shunned in every way possible. You could still be fired from your job. You could also just be completely ignored -- merely not being banned from Twitter does not grant you even a single follower.

To illustrate the issue, consider that one can be suspended or even banned from Twitter simply for stating (rightly or wrongly) that there are two genders. But Sarah Jeong-style tweets are considered perfectly fine, even though they are hateful and racist in many ways. I think these examples illustrate that what is at stake here is much more than just the ability of mass murderers to spew hatred.

To make your analogy stronger, you would have to imagine a world in which theaters had become the standard place to talk and engage in discourse amongst tens of millions of people simultaneously.

Adding to your point, there is whole generation of people who think 'freedom of speech' also means entitlement to get an audience.

You can see this phenomenon in Indian right wing Twitter accounts, the talk is like: Don't I have freedom of speech? Why don't people listen to what I say? Why am I being deprived of audience?

And like you said many people have a hard time coming to terms when faced with fact that 'freedom of speech' only gives you the freedom to talk, as such no immunity is provided for the consequences of the speech. This leads to all sorts of crazy situations, for example: Many people give like hate inciting speech to create a riot, and almost act like they indulged in a great tradition of democracy.

On the very long term, things like 'freedom of speech', only make sense when they become a force for good. Another common abuse is comedians, cartoonists etc, in full conscious creating mischief and expect people to just happily put up with it.

gab.com was founded as a safe space for the alt-right, going so far as to choose a frog as their mascot (a reference to "Pepe"). gab.com just got a heavy dose of bad publicity from the fact that the terrorist who murdered 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh spent a great deal of time on gab.

I think you mean “Pepe” for the name of the frog.

Oy, thanks, fixed.

Are you being intentionally ironic when you say it is a “safe space” for the alt-right?

Yes - the alt-right and the nazis love to bash “safe spaces” - defined as being locations we’re you’re not aloud to be a bigot to people - but they freak out any time someone says something that might imply the non white people, lgbt people, women, etc should have rights. Hence they need a safe space where they can be surrounded by other white supremecests, nazis, and america hating shitheads.

Thanks, apologies that might have come across like I was attacking you, but I wasn't. I was genuinely curious because I sort of laughed then thought... hang on...

In short: there was a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The shooter was actively antisemitic on Gab, which is known for tolerating extremism and hate speech.


Note: I'm trying to be factual here, but know that Pittsburgh is my home town and I have a lot of feelings about this.

Gab encourages extremism and racism. It was literally founded in response to other sites saying “no” to hosting such bile.

So I guess Gab is a Twitter clone like Voat was supposed to be for Reddit. As an aside, how does Mastodon deals/will deal with the issue? Because it is almost guaranteed that the most extremist elements will flock to it (I'm sold on its long term usefulness).

Mastodon deals with it my not being popular enough even for trolls ;)

In seriousness, isn't it federated like PeerTube? In that case, you'd likely only allow people to link to your network if you trust them, and each network would be responsible for vetting its users. If a particular network becomes a cesspool, you just remove them from your network instead of having to completely overhaul the entire system.

Mastodon deals with it by leaving it up to the operators of each instance whether or not to federate with any other instance. If an instance takes a hard turn for the crazy, you can just turn off federation with that instance and you will never hear from it again.

So imagine you run a Mastodon instance. You try to keep it a chill place. You start getting lots of reports for not just one, but multiple users on boner.lol. There's just a lot of people there who like pissing people off, it seems.

You look up who boner.lol's admin is and they are posting the exact same kind of stuff people are reporting their users for, and rabidly defending users who're being called out on other instances for doing this. So you shrug, and silence the whole instance. Now nobody on boner.lol can talk to anyone on your instance.

But what about @niceguy@boner.lol? @niceguy has a lot of friends on your instance, and wasn't doing any of the stuff that got boner.lol silenced. They just thought 'boner.lol' sounded funny. They want to talk to their friends, so they make a new account elsewhere - maybe on your instance if registration is open, maybe elsewhere. Eventually they pretty much move operations to their new account because they just can't talk to anyone they want to with their boner.lol account.

This continues for a while. Maybe you toot something about how you silenced boner.lol and some of the other instance admins you're friendly with decide to preemptively silence boner.lol as well. Other admins silence it after their own direct experience with it. Maybe it gets added to one of the lists of Instances You Might Wanna Silence If You Want Things To Be Chill. Eventually the only other instances that don't silence boner.lol are ones that allow the same kind of behavior that got them silenced on your instance. And the admin of boner.lol now has a userbase consisting of nothing but the kind of people who enjoy pissing each other off. Which sure doesn't sound like a very rewarding thing to run, financially or emotionally.

There is at least one instance I could name which has run down this path, and is no more.

Why stop with Gab? The CIA has a fucking verified account on Twitter. Why should a platform which not only tolerates but tacitly endorses organizations which perform extrajudicial torture and murder be allowed to keep their domain?

Lots of noble and admirable people use Twitter, in addition to shitbags. I challenge you to find a decent person who is an active user of Gab.

Does anybody else see the irony of a self-proclaimed 'social networking service' turning to Twitter because nobody would notice if they posted something on their own service?

Microsoft still runs ads on Google.

They can't post on their own service because their hosting was pulled by joyent.

True, but it’s also how they posted about other businesses refusing to do business with them.

It's probably not related, but I cannot be quiet about management access outage GoDaddy is experiencing right now - nobody can login to their accounts and multiple authoritative dns servers dont work https://puck.nether.net/pipermail/outages/2018-October/01177...

What can be used to silence your opposition will be used to silence you.

The only reason I can imagine their domain is registered with GoDaddy is so that they could gain attention from its inevitable suspension. Everyone knows GoDaddy does things like this.

I feel almost too defeated to share this. I'm somewhat ignorant on the issue, which might come across as having a politicial leaning. I don't.

This is a proxy battle for "Big Tech is Liberal and Liberals are trying to shut down Conservative speech", is it? Or am I wrong? If it is, why don't Conservatives just create their own tech stuff? Like what is fundamentally stopping people from being heard if the government isn't the one stopping them? Is it currently too hard to create another registrar so we're stuck with the ones we have?

> If it is, why don't Conservative just create their own tech stuff?

That's literally what Gab is.

> Is it currently too hard to create another registrar so we're stuck with the ones we have?

Sort of. In theory it's possible [1], but it's hard enough almost no one does it.

Not even Twitter has their own registrar (which it why they went down during the DynDNS attack).

[1] https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/accreditation-2012-02-...


So right or wrong, hate or not, illegal or not, there's ultimately a corporation somewhere deciding if you get a domain name to point at your content.

I guess there's also an ISP and all of that also involved.

I wonder how much this changes or should change if the Internet was to be considered a fundamental right. Mentally rambling now. Anyway, thanks for the link.

It's turtles all the way down.

You can host your own services, but better hope your colo doesn't decide you're more trouble than you're worth. Build out your own datacenter, but hope your ISP(s) don't decide you're more trouble than you're worth. Build out your own ISP, but hope anyone wants to peer with you.

And that's just on the transit side. We've a growing history of piracy sites having their access to the DNS infrastructure curtailed, and porn sites finding the only payment processors who'll touch them charge above and beyond for the 'privilege'.

It becomes difficult to ignore that members of society do depend on the rest of society.

Wait until the banking and credit systems step into the censorship game. (The banks already shut out porn sites, adult performers, and legal cannabis businesses.)

Payment processors are just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine not being able to take out your rent money because the banks have "deplatformed" you! That's where we're headed.

It's going to turn really nasty when the political enemy du jour shifts away from Literal Nazis and back to anti-government critics, environmentalists, and the like.

This is how fascism and several forms of communism have come to power. If those in power can silence whom they choose, then they play to the people only as long as they have to. When they have enough power, they play no one's game and silence whoever they want.

[edit] It is worth noting that GoDaddy does not equate to "those in power". A business has every right to deny service on whatever grounds they choose (even for no reason). [/edit]

> > If it is, why don't Conservative just create their own tech stuff?

> That's literally what Gab is.

You're doing "conservatives" a disservice if you claim that anything with a conservative bent would have to end up as the racist cesspool Gab is, and where Gab constantly makes crazy statements themselves (FFS, https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1056266704148262912 )

The underlying problem is that the “conservative movement” has decided that when a site decides to ban nazis (and their racist, homophobe, etc friends) that is the same thing as banning “conservatives”.

I have trouble understanding how anyone can defend Gab considering the major meltdown their twitter account is going through, including reaching out to Alex Jones as well as perpetuating alt-right memes and conspiracy theories.

No one wants to be associated with Gab because it's clear to anyone that it's a garbage fire of a website. It's similar to what happened with Stormfront.

This isn't a battle between liberals and conservatives, this is big corporations being terrified of liability.

Gab and their ilk are giant targets for lawsuits for negligence and who knows whatever else, and no one wants to the deeper pockets further up the food chain

The risk/reward of associating with products like Gab has gotten very negative

Aside from the "this chills speech/does not" discussion, I just want to point out that hate speech laws or deplatforming don't actually accomplish any of their stated goals. Timothy McVeigh did not need any online echo chambers to perpetrate the Oklahoma City Bombing. In the Weimar Republic, there were hate speech laws (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/copenhagen-speech-v...). Relevant quote:

"Researching my book, I looked into what actually happened in the Weimar Republic. I found that, contrary to what most people think, Weimar Germany did have hate-speech laws, and they were applied quite frequently. The assertion that Nazi propaganda played a significant role in mobilizing anti-Jewish sentiment is, of course, irrefutable. But to claim that the Holocaust could have been prevented if only anti-Semitic speech and Nazi propaganda had been banned has little basis in reality. Leading Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. Streicher served two prison sentences. Rather than deterring the Nazis and countering anti-Semitism, the many court cases served as effective public-relations machinery, affording Streicher the kind of attention he would never have found in a climate of a free and open debate. In the years from 1923 to 1933, Der Stürmer [Streicher's newspaper] was either confiscated or editors taken to court on no fewer than thirty-six occasions. The more charges Streicher faced, the greater became the admiration of his supporters. The courts became an important platform for Streicher's campaign against the Jews. In the words of a present-day civil-rights campaigner, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the anti-hate laws of today, and they were enforced with some vigor. As history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it."

Hell, Hitler himself was convicted of high treason, but only got a slap on the wrist because the judge and jury were basically on his side.

The only thing strong or soft speech policing contributes to is the further erosion of our civil liberties.

> The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.


Suspending domain name registration is truly disturbing. I'm literally speechless and I feel like a line has been crossed. This is domain registration, an abstract service that routes requests based on a name. How did the policing of speech get to this level? I don't have words for the things I'm feeling right now. The actions of a mentally ill person has triggered full on censorship. This is entire situation is fucked up beyond words. We just need to man up and legally ban hate speech instead of beating around the bush and before we start quietly, effectively banning other forms of speech.

It started when the domain for The Pirate Bay was seized. And the precedent that linking or providing a way for someone to search for illegal content is the same as hosting the illegal content. Internet companies have to now take an aggressively proactive approach to avoiding hosting, linking, or being associated with a domain or content provider that may become the target of a lawsuit.

Started there, and that's far worse too. It was government action and none of the objectionable content was actually on the site.

The policing of speech got to this level when the site owner expresses no responsibility for contributing to the murderous radicalization of its members.

Far worse content is seen in Twitter, and they keep their domain. How so.

edit: immediate downvoting with no response. Really? So isn't there abhorrent content divulgated by Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/etc? Are any of their domains threatened by it? Any of the downvoters, feel free to engage in discussion.

The difference is that the worst stuff you generally see on Twitter is the stuff that is highest-voted content on Gab.

The difference is Twitter is willing to remove the "far worse content" while Gab is not.

The shooter's content was scrubbed and gab notified the FBI once they were made aware of it. What else were they supposed to do?

Is there any chance they don't yet have the tools to police it? It's taken a fair amount of time and resources for other platforms to do it, to the point that YouTube/Twitter rely on users to do so.

And when threatened, they've done so:


Again, seems to me we're holding to different standards.

If you read interviews with Gab’s owner you will see there is no intention to mitigate the site’s extremism or radicalization of its members toward violence.

GoDaddy is completely in their right to do this. They are demanding Gab.com find another provider.

Yes, domain registration is an abstract concept. GoDaddy, on the other hand, is in no way, shape, or form abstract and as a corporation, has the rights to do this.

>The actions of a mentally ill person has triggered full on censorship

How do you know he was mentally ill? Lot of non-mentally ill people commit crimes. Were all the Nazis mentally ill? Was Hitler mentally ill?

Using horrific and tragic deaths as a cudgel to beat your political enemies discredits any moral claims in my opinion.

1) Please stop with the hyperbole. This isn't war.

2) Godaddy is apolitical. They are merely trying to distance themselves from the actions of the Gab site like everyone else is.

1.) It's not hyperbole. Innocent people on gab.ai are now cut-off from discussion with each other because some loon happened to post on their site. 2.) "distancing yourself" is the same as taking a political stance.

There's nothing more liberal in 2018 than worshipping at the altar of billion dollar banking institutions and web hosters for colluding to suppress the speech of people they disagree with.

As a private (non-govermental) organization, GoDaddy isn't bound to providing free speech to anyone. Gab.com is welcome to keep gabbing on someone else's platform.

Centrist and neoliberal, maybe.

I don't understand the point you're trying to make here. It looks like you're trying to associate something a large corporation is doing, and has every right to do, with an entire swath of America because... because... why? Are you feeling particularly repressed by liberals as of late?

That is ridiculous. We really have to address the bias/extremism in the tech hierarchy and their shortsighted foolishness. Gab did nothing illegal. All this does is opens up godaddy to pressure to start suspending other "offensive" domains.

These groups of large tech companies are acting as puritans and social engineers in concert are worrying. The same companies complaining about other countries forcing them to censor and going above and beyond censoring at home.

Edit: 10 years ago, nobody with any sense would have supported this. People valued free speech. The anti-free speech brigading is rather shocking, especially on a site like hacker news.

I actually agreed with you, except with the edit. GoDaddy did nothing illegal, either. GoDaddy is executing their free speech. Per Citizens United (pushed by the right, of course)

"The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010, that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations".

We should just admit that businesses censor one way or another - whether suppressing speech (removal of tweets), or extreme bias in information dissemination (looking at you, Fox News).

(looking at you, NYT)

The thing is that "nothing illegal" is too low a bar. From a purely ethical standpoint taking money from a platform that supports hate speech is pretty sketchy even if it's not illegal

I agree, it is a slippery slope for the domain hosters. Hopefully they will just shift into tor where censorship does not exist.

The slippery slope is a logical fallacy. Is there evidence this extends beyond this specific case or hate speech in general?

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody." GoDaddy exercised that right. They are not obligated to provide service to anybody.

> All this does is opens up godaddy to pressure to start suspending other "offensive" domains.

To those of us who want to see bad websites go away, this doesn't sound like a terrible thing.

> 10 years ago, nobody with any sense would have supported this.

Ten years ago, antisemites were a lot quieter.

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