Gab, a social network popular with the racist “alt-right” movement, has been banned from the Google Play app store for hate speech.
The move comes amid a sweeping attempts from the technology industry to crack down on far-right and racist content in the aftermath of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Launched in 2016, Gab styles itself as “an ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.”
It has proved popular with the far-right, and in page soliciting fundraising it says it sees ” a unique opportunity to carve a niche in a massively underserved and unrepresented market … conservative, libertarian, nationalist, and populist internet users from around the world.”
On Wednesday, Gab posted a photo on Twitter of an email it says it received from Google informing the company its Android app had been banned from the Google Play Store.
“After review, Gab.ai.android has been suspended and removed from Google Play as a policy strike because it violates the hate speech policy,” it said.
The policy specifies that Google does not “allow apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
On its Twitter account, Gab speculated the move was related to the fact it apparently offered a job to James Damore, the Google engineer fired for penning a controversial memo about diversity. “Really interesting that shortly after Gab offered [Damore] a job and supported him in the media that our app gets pulled from Google,” Gab wrote.
Google said it couldn’t comment on individual cases. But a spokesman said: “We will remove any apps that break our policies.”
And despite being booted from the Play Store, the service has also just surpassed $US1 million (£775 millon) in crowdfunding from more than 1,000 investors.
Gab is just the latest controversial service to be barred by a major tech firm this week. Almost all of the big firms have taken steps to block services associated with the alt-right or far right, with Google, GoDaddy, and Cloudflare refusing services to the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi news site, PayPal refusing payment services to hate sites, and Facebook banning white nationalist user accounts.
Gab remains accessible via its website on desktop and on mobile devices. It is not available in Apple’s App Store, Breitbart reported in 2016, after it was rejected because it contains “pornographic content.”
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