WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Attention is turning to gab.com – a social media platform on which accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers was a community member. Lackawanna County Native Andrew Torba founded the site. He spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller to set the record straight on the website he created, what responsibility he believes he bears for the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and what the future holds for him and “gab”.
Wearing a cap that said “Make Speech Free Again”, gab.com founder Andrew Torba spoke to Eyewitness News on Tuesday with his social media platform linked to the worst mass shooting at a synagogue in U.S. history. “I was horrified to find out that this terrorist, this alleged terrorist, was on our site.”
Gab’s domain provider took the site off-line after learning Robert Bowers, the accused gunman at Tree of Life Synagogue, had an anti-semitic digital footprint on gab and posted just minutes before the attack, “I’m going in.” Mr. Torba claims gab is a victim of unfair guilt through association. “There are bad people in the world and they are on every social network. They are on the internet and for the media to attack us and blame us for the actions, these horrific terroristic actions of one man who bears the sole responsibility for this – no one else.”
Mr. Torba also believes his site, which he says has more than 800,000 community members, helps expose dangerous individuals who otherwise would lurk in silence. “More speech is always going to be the answer to combat bad speech or hate speech.”
Mr. Torba says while his gab platform allows people to speak freely, he’s enforced guidelines. Case in point, he claims, is his removal of some 100,000 BOTs connected with the alt-right computer hacker ‘weev’ known for its calls of genocide against non-whites. “Free speech is not anarchy and I think a lot of people misinterpret that. They think that free speech means you can say anything and do anything you want and that’s just not true.”
While gab is down, Mr. Torba says don’t count him or his site out. “We will be back. We are building everything essentially from scratch on our own from the ground up.” He said his conservative goal is to get gab.com up and running by this weekend.
Mr. Torba says he contacted the FBI and Department of Justice over the weekend once he became aware Bowers was a community member on gab. Mr. Torba says he’s “heartbroken” over the synagogue massacre. He also claims he and his own family are now receiving death threats.