Thursday morning (Aug. 9), Microsoft sent an ultimatum to the social networking site Gab: Take down two anti-Semitic posts from the platform in the next 48 hours, or we’ll stop hosting your site on our servers.
Gab founder Andrew Torba posted the email to Twitter in addition to his site, which has become a water cooler for neo-Nazis and the alt-right since it launched two years ago.
The two posts in question both came from Patrick Little, a far-right Senate candidate who was kicked out of the GOP convention this spring for spewing anti-Semitic comments. He denies the Holocaust and told Newsweek that he sees Adolf Hitler as “the second coming of Christ.”
“I will delete my posts when the jews have been removed from power in this country,” Little wrote on Gab yesterday. After a request directly from Torba, the posts have been taken down.
Gab did not respond to a request for comment.
Little’s posts may have fallen under the radar if it were not for the tumultuous week in which they were surfaced. On Sunday, Apple removed podcasts from popular conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for violating its hate speech policy, which catalyzed a cascade of similar moves from tech companies such as Spotify, YouTube, and Facebook.
Microsoft, which primarily sells products to businesses and does not have a social network of its own, may seem like an unlikely candidate to take a stand on issues of free speech. Azure, the company’s cloud hosting platform, has over 13% of the cloud hosting market, according to data from Synergy Research Group. As it attempts to challenge Amazon Web Services to become the de-facto hosting-as-a-service provider, calling out Gab draws a line in the sand for what the platform will not allow.
“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 wrote in a statement to Quartz.
Gab, which bills itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter, is “actively looking” into other hosting providers despite compelling Little to comply with Microsoft’s request.
“We believe this was the best decision for the longevity of the platform and the war against Silicon Valley,” Torba wrote on his platform.