Microsoft enters hate speech fray, threatens to take down social network site Gab over anti-Semitic posts

Arif Bacchus

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Microsoft found itself in a bit of controversy this week when it got its hands mixed in with some posts on an Azure-hosted social networking website. Indeed, noted by Engadget, the company apparently asked social networking website Gab to pull some anti-Semitic posts, and threatened to stop serving it.

Though Gab is known as a safe haven for free speech, it has also recently been the home for some controversial hate speech content. At the center of the Microsoft controversy are two posts from California Senate Candidate Patrick Little in which he partly mentioned his agenda of removing Jewish people from America. Little eventually deleted the posts on his own, but not before Gab’s founder and CEO Andrew Torba issued this tweet.

Seen above, Microsoft’s letter to Gab, the company threatened to stop serving Gab in two days, and noted that the Azure team “received a complaint of malicious activity originating from Azure deployments.” Another statement from a Microsoft published in The Hill added to that:

Microsoft received a complaint about specific posts on that advocate ‘ritual death by torture’ and the ‘complete eradication’ of all Jews. 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,

Interestingly, Microsoft initially mentioned that the Gab website was hosting Phishing URLs, but a subsequent reply from Gab’s founder and CEO Andrew Torba debated this. There was an interesting exchange of emails between the two parties, as noted by the Gab Twitter.

This is definitely an interesting saga, and it brings into question the ethics of technology and these types of services. Do you think it was right for Microsoft to threaten to take down Gab because of hate speech? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.