Epik, a domain name provider that helped the controversial social network Gab return online this month, was subpoenaed afterwards by Pennsylvania’s attorney general as part of an investigation launched in light of the platform’s connection to suspected Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro sent Epik a subpoena requesting documents related to Gab on Wednesday, three days after the Bellevue, Washington-based registrar assisted the social network in securing a web address, effectively facilitating its return in spite of concerns raised in the wake of last month’s deadly mass shooting.
Epik is cooperating with authorities, the company’s chief executive officer said Thursday, while Gab blasted the subpoena as an effort to intimidate the service into oblivion.
Mr. Shapiro’s office confirmed the subpoena was issued but declined to comment, NPR reported.
Gab went offline for roughly a week starting late last month after it emerged that the suspected Pittsburgh synagogue shooter maintained an active account on the platform, and that he had used it to publish anti-Semitic posts as recently as moments before the Oct. 27 rampage.
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” the user posted shortly before 11 people were killed inside the Tree Of Life Synagogue last month.
Internet companies including GoDaddy, the web’s largest domain registrar, subsequently severed ties with Gab in the massacre’s aftermath, leaving it without a web address and other infrastructure until Epik stepped in this past Sunday.
Three days later, Gab revealed through its Twitter account that Epik had received a subpoena seeking documents concerning to its newest client.
“We will not be bullied or intimidated,” Gab said in a since-deleted tweet containing a screenshot of the subpoena.
“The news of the subpoena was not intended for public consumption,” Epik CEO Rob Monster told Ars Technica, the website reported Thursday. “We are cooperating with their inquiry.”
Launched in 2016, Gab boasted more than a half-million users prior to being placed in the spotlight following the Oct. 27 synagogue shooting.
“Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. This has always been our policy,” the platform said previously.
Mr. Shapiro, a Democrat, announced days after the shooting that the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office would investigate Gab, citing its use by the suspected gunman.
“We’re also going to be conducting independently a review of the social media platform Gab, used by this individual in Pittsburgh,” Mr. Shapiro said late last month. “We’re going to do everything we can to support law enforcement and do our work as well to keep people safe.”
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