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Microsoft threatened to drop hosting for Gab over hate speech posts

Microsoft has threatened to cease hosting services for the alt-right social network Gab over two anti-Semitic posts, according to an email published by Gab founder Andrew Torba. The email claims the posts violate Microsoft policy and requests that Gab “promptly take appropriate action to resolve the complaint…within two business days” or hosting service will be suspended. If Gab is forced off Azure, Torba says service “will go down for weeks/months” as the company secures a new provider.

The named posts were written by Patrick Little, a Senate candidate who was ejected from a GOP convention in May for anti-Semitic views. The named posts, which are more than three weeks old, also express intense anti-Semitism and meet any reasonable definition of hate speech. Little has pledged to remove the posts, but described the complaint as “a violation of our rights as Americans.”

As of press time, the posts were still live. Gab did not respond to a request for comment.

Founded as an alt-right alternative for users who were banned by Twitter and Facebook, Gab has long struggled to maintain infrastructure partners in the face of persistent hate speech complaints. Gab’s apps have been dropped from both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, making the service largely unavailable on mobile devices. (The Google ban was the subject of an antitrust complaint.)

In 2017, Gab was nearly dropped by its domain registrar over a series of posts that violated the provider’s hate speech policy. Gab subsequently banned the user, arguing the posts constituted a credible threat of violence.

In the email posted by Torba, Microsoft named two posts as containing phishing URLs, although nothing in the posts themselves supports that claim. Microsoft did not respond to questions about why the posts had been flagged as phishing. The company has had a policy against hate speech since 2016, and it encourages users to report any content on Microsoft-hosted services that “advocates violence or promotes hatred based on…race.”

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