Gab app banned from Google Play Store over hate speech concerns as web giants face free speech crisis

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The founder of Gab, the alternative social networking service that has attracted far-right groups, said today that the company’s app had been removed from the Google Play Store due to concerns about hate speech.

While about a year old, Gab has seen its crowdfunding campaign surge in popularity in recent days thanks to controversies surrounding the racial violence in Charlottesville last weekend, and Google’s firing of engineer over a controversial diversity memo he wrote. The site insists it wants to be a politically neutral ground for free speech running on an advertising-free business model.

As donations to Gab accelerated in recent days, the founder of Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer decided to at least temporarily make Gab his site’s new home after he struggled to keep it online in the wake of several internet services revoking their support.

Gab has said it has been rejected numerous times from Apple’s App Store. But late today, after announcing they had raised $1 million, Gab executives received this notice from Google:

It’s unclear whether or not that’s specifically related to the presence of the Stormer. But it raises a dangerous president and some uncomfortable questions. For instance, Facebook and Twitter are riddled with hate speech, even if both companies are attempting to take steps to purge such groups.

Still, shouldn’t this qualify them for removal from both app stores? That was clearly on the mind of Gab supporters:

The growing threat to free speech prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation to pen an editorial asking all sides to consider the consequences of blocking sites that include such language:

“All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.”

For Gab’s founder Andrew Tarbo, this move is likely to fuel his crusade at what he already felt was the overwhelming control a handful of companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, already wielded over speech on the internet:

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