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Google removes Gab app for violating hate speech policy

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Popular alt-right social network recently raised $1 million in crowdfunding campaign

Gab.ai

Gab, the social network that has become popular among members of the alt-right, was removed from the Google Play Store this week for violating Google’s hate speech policy.

The company announced the removal of its app in a tweet on Thursday, shortly after announcing it had raised $1 million in a crowdfunding campaign. The tweet also included a screenshot of an email from Google, which said that the Gab app was “suspended and removed” from the Google Play Store for violating its hate speech policy.

Gab describes itself as “an ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.” The site, which launched last year, has attracted many far-right users who have been banned on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Although the social network claims to be politically neutral, its green frog logo bears a clear resemblance to Pepe the Frog, a popular mascot of the alt-right; and its CEO, Andrew Torba, is a supporter of President Donald Trump who was removed from a Y Combinator alumni network last year for violating its harassment policy.

As VentureBeat notes, Gab’s crowdfunding campaign appears to have gained momentum following this week’s violence in Charlottesville, which prompted several web services to sever ties with hate groups, as well as a sexist memo from a Google engineer that leaked earlier this month. Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, recently began posting screenshots of articles to Gab after various web hosting and domain services cut the site off.

In a statement, Google said that social networking apps on the Play Store “need to demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people” and that this rule is “clearly stated” in its developer policies. It added that developers can appeal their app’s suspension if they address the issue.

Torba has said previously that Gab is “not going to police what is hate speech and what isn’t,” which itself sounds like a violation of Google’s policies. Google also has a specific hate speech policy that forbids any 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.”

Google has moved offensive apps in the past, including one that made a game of the Holocaust. Gab’s app has never been approved for placement on Apple’s App Store.

Following the removal, Gab tweeted a link that it says would allow Android users to download its app without going through the Play Store.

Update August 18th, 2:21PM ET: This story has been updated with comment from Google.