The alt-right is having a bad week. Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube all removed Alex Jones’ Infowars podcasts and pages from their various platforms. Now, Microsoft has put Gab.ai—a Twitter alternative popular with America’s political fringe—on notice.
Microsoft told the service—which is largely an alt-right cesspool of people who have already been banned from Twitter—that it must remove hate speech that incites violence or lose access to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, which hosts the platform.
Microsoft pointed to two posts from Gab user Patrick Little, one that calls for the “complete eradication of all Jews” and the other which calls for their death by torture: “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,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard. “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.”
Little is a Republican Senate candidate from California who the party found so vile it kicked him out of its convention in May. Since then, he’s been stumping across the country, spreading his anti-semitic message via public rallies and Friends themed robo-calls. He has used Gab to call for the destruction of Holocaust memorials, and far worse.
Gab founder Andrew Torba posted a screenshot of a notice he got from Microsoft that says "continued violation of the Microsoft Azure Acceptable Use Policy may result in the suspension of your deployments." Torba posted a message on Gab asking Little if he would voluntarily delete the posts, but has not taken any action against him or his posts yet; Gab paints itself as a "free speech" alternative to Twitter. Torba said he would not be giving interviews on the subject.
Microsoft, for its part, was unequivocal about the posts needing to come down:
“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,” Microsoft said. “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.”