Azure on Thursday told Gab, a social network popular with conservatives and the white nationalist "alt-right," that it had two days to "take appropriate action" on two posts, according to Gab founder and CEO Andrew Torba.
"Gab's hosting provider, Microsoft Azure, has given us 48 hours to take action on two posts, or they will pull our service and Gab will go down for weeks/months," Torba wrote in a post on Gab, which included screenshots from a message sent by Microsoft.
In the message, Microsoft pointed to two posts from Senate candidate Patrick Little, who was kicked out of the GOP convention in May for anti-Semitic and white supremacist views. Little also conveys anti-Semitic views in the posts, which were published more than three weeks ago. He didn't respond to a request for comment.
Later on Thursday, Little removed the posts, saying, "this is a violation of our rights as Americans."
Gab, which launched in 2016 as an alternative to Twitter, calls itself "a social network that champions free speech, individual liberty and the free flow of information online." It doesn't have many restrictions on what users can post, and its mascot is a green frog reminiscent of the Pepe cartoon character that's been co-opted as a hate symbol. Gab says it has a community of more than 215,000 people.
Microsoft's move comes as tech giants grapple with their stances on free speech. After weeks of mounting pressure, companies like Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify have banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars publication, citing violations of their community policies. Twitter hasn't followed suit, with CEO
saying Jones hasn't crossed the line on the platform.
Microsoft didn't respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to Fortune: "Microsoft received a complaint about specific posts on Gab.ai 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."
Gab didn't respond to a request for comment.
First published Aug. 9, 12:56 p.m. PT.
Update, Aug. 10, 9:38 a.m.: Updated to add that Little took down the two posts, and added statement from Microsoft.
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