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Microsoft threatens to boot the far-right's favorite social network off its cloud over posts that threatened Jews with 'vengeance' (MSFT)

Rob Price
Satya Nadella

AP


  • Microsoft is threatening to kick Gab, a social network popular with the racist far-right, off its cloud hosting service Azure.
  • The company has taken issue with virulently anti-Semitic posts that call for "vengeance" against Jews and the vandalism of Holocaust memorial museums.
  • Microsoft has given Gab a 48-hour deadline to comply.


Microsoft has threatened to kick a social network popular with the racist far-right off its cloud hosting service over anti-Semitic content that advocated genocide and torture of Jews.

Gab, which has been described as "the alt-right's very own Twitter," is hosted on Microsoft's Azure service. But on Thursday, the Seattle-based company said it was considering booting Gab off its network, which would take the social network offline.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company had "received a complaint about specific posts on Gab.ai that advocate 'ritual death by torture' and the 'complete annihilation' of all Jews," and that it had determined the content incited violence, "is not protected by the First Amendment, and violates Microsoft Azure's acceptable use policy." 

Multiple users on Gab responded to the news of Microsoft's threat with virulently anti-Semitic messages of their own.

The user behind the two posts in question — which advocate the vandalism of Holocaust memorial museums and discuss in explicit detail a plan for torturing Jews — says he will delete the posts, but as of publication, they remain live on Gab. Microsoft has given Gab 48 hours to take them down.

The furor comes at a time of intense debate over the tech companies' responsibility for the content that appears on their platforms. Facebook and YouTube have recently bowed to public pressure and booted notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their social networks.

Many Gab users are outraged about Microsoft's actions, painting themselves as martyrs for the cause of free speech — but one of the posts in question is arguably a direct incitement to violence that calls for "vengeance" for the "debt the jew owes the world."

Gab co-founder Andrew Torba issued a statement on the incident from his profile on the site. 

"To the lying, sophist, mainstream media political activists who call themselves 'journalists' reaching out: we are not doing ANY interviews with Fake News," the statement reads in part. It goes on to say that Gab will only speak with Scott Budman, a reporter with NBC Bay Area News. 

We've reached out to Gab for further comment and will update if we hear back.

Here's the full statement from Microsoft:

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.

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