Cyberhate
Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

ADL Calls on U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Gab For Possible Criminal Liability in Capitol Attack

Platform’s CEO encouraged rioters to broadcast their actions

New York, NY, January 13, 2021 … The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to launch a criminal investigation into Gab and its CEO, Andrew Torba, to determine whether the social media platform intentionally aided or abetted individuals who carried out the January 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol. Gab continues to serve as a forum where white supremacists and extremists gather to plan and organize hateful acts.

In an open letter to the Justice Department, ADL provided a list of actions that ADL and other sources reported as having occurred on the platform before, during and after the Capitol violence that may have contributed to violations of federal criminal law. These included a message from the CEO to subscribers before the attack that encouraged them to use the platform to provide uncensored footage from events on January 6. According to at least one report, in the lead-up to the attack, directions for which streets to take to avoid the police, and which tools to bring to help pry open doors, were exchanged in comments on the platform.

“The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was perhaps one of the darkest days in American history, but it also was a deliberate and coordinated criminal act,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “In addition to holding individuals who broke the law accountable, the authorities must fully determine whether social media platforms, particularly Gab, bear a measure of responsibility for the attack as well.”

ADL’s open letter noted that the immunity from liability that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act affords to social media companies does not apply to federal criminal law.  In addition to Gab, ADL called for criminal investigations into any other social media platforms or websites where evidence emerges that might lead to a reasonable belief that the platform or its employees intended to aid and abet the rioters. Websites and apps such as thedonald.win and Parler provided forums for extremists to communicate, organize and mobilize for the events of January 6. 

“The violent storming of the Capitol on January 6 was not a constitutionally protected act, it was a dangerous criminal activity with no precedent in American history. Tragically there were several fatalities, including Officer Brian Sicknick who was murdered in cold blood,” said Greenblatt. “If Gab or any platform intentionally facilitated such unlawful conduct, it itself may have engaged in criminal acts for which it should be held accountable.”

Cyberhate
Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.