Controversial site moves its domain name to Epik.
Most domain name registrars don’t like a hot potato, but Epik founder Rob Monster has decided to serve as the registrar for one–Gab.com.
If you aren’t familiar with the site, the “free speech” social network has been in the news because the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter ranted on the site.
The domain was at GoDaddy, which asked Gab.com founder Andrew Torba to move the domain elsewhere after the shooting. The domain moved to Uniregistry before finding a home at Epik.
I’m not surprised that Epik CEO Rob Monster accepted the domain transfer. Monster often uses terms like “digital sovereignty” and promotes decentralization. Epik has promoted itself as “The Swiss Bank of Domains”.
In a blog post this weekend, Monster wrote that “De-Platforming is Digital Censorship. Blacklisting is Digital Shunning.”
As the news broke, and as some elements in the mainstream media rendered their judgement, I embarked on my own search for truth. Along the way, I did have an opportunity to meet with the Founder of Gab, Andrew Torba, an entrepreneur who was willing to swim against the tide for what he believes is right, namely empowering netizens to discuss openly about matters of mutual interest with limited risk of censorship.
Although, I did not take the decision lightly to accept this domain registration, I look forward to partnering with a young, and once brash, CEO who is courageously doing something that looks useful. As I reflect on my own journey as a truth-seeking tech entrepreneur, I have no doubt that Andrew will continue to develop not only as tech entrepreneur but also as a responsible steward — one that can balance bravado with diplomacy and who tempers courage with humility.
I’m curious if other registrants of controversial sites will move to Epik as a result of this decision. Many of these sites cost more to be the registrar of than the $10 or so they pay each year. They come with headaches. But those are apparently headaches Monster is willing to handle in furtherance of his beliefs.
Robert Monster says
Not an easy decision frankly but in the absence of clearer guidelines from ICANN on handling take-down requests, a free public internet is better than pushing “fringe” people to an encrypted, non-observable Blockchain or other decentralized alternative.
Mainstream adoption of Blockchain as an addressing scheme would be the death of domains so this is not a light matter for the domain community. If small websites can’t use their domains, the utility of domains is dramatically lower, i.e. if domains can only be used by approved people at a shrinking number of accredited registrars.
Domainers should absolutely support a free and observable internet. Problem content on the Gab site should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org which is being monitored 24/7.
This is marketing justified through libertarian buzz words. It’s transparent.
Robert, you can choose to empower hate speech, or not.
I’m choosing to hard pass on anything you’re working on.
“Hate speech” is a term invented to surpass speech. More often than not its used when opinion differs. Free Speech on the other hand is regulated. I’ll stick with the law. Citizens of the web are with you Rob. Well done on this decision.
sabrina kabella. says
Decent people are not with you!
No Sabrina, you are wrong about that, and you are on the wrong side of history.
Were any of your ancestors oppressed? If so, go find out why and come back and defend that statement.
I guarantee you restrictions on free speech were involved.
““Hate speech” is a term invented to surpass speech.”
Well said, Mano, and obviously you meant “suppress” there of course.
sabrina kabella. says
So Rob Monster looks forward to partnering with white supremacists and fascists??!!!
Hopefully Epik will soon go the ways of Napster.
Let’s see how long this lasts.
Decent people don’t want to be associated with Aryans like that.
He’s also on Facebook
Sabrina, I don’t know what country you are from and what the laws and society are like there, but I’m from the US. And in the US, whenever people have a strong disagreement about something it is a habit as old as the hills to accuse them of all sorts of evil such as racism, misogyny, sexism, etc. And blatantly (to any decent person) that is all that you are doing there. In the meantime, however, what would be your position on the evil of those kinds and more being continually spewed out and allowed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter which they gladly and continually allow while selectively censoring and suppressing others?
This craziness started long ago.
“First they came for the mugshot websites, but I said nothing…”
That medium gives a lot of sicks a voice, and like minded voices, best to keep them offline!
Thomas, can you explain then why Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are not also taken and kept offline, or do you think one can’t find plenty of such things on those “platforms” which they gladly allow?
That’s what I thought…
@Thomas, Have you ever read any history at all?
Why are you today allowed to practice the religion you want? Say what you want? Go where you want?
For most Americans with blood ties to England, their ancestors did not have that right. This was a large reason why we fought England for independence. You were not allowed to practice your own religion — you had to follow the official religion of England ; you were not allowed to say what you wanted. The Revolutionary War was not just about taxation without representation for Americans.
Everybody deserves a right to say what they want in the U.S. , that is what free speech is (albeit with some exceptions like not screaming “fire” in a theater). The day we start limiting who can say what is the day you and I both start walking down the path to oppression, subjugation, and even possibly slavery.
Don’t laugh just because you have grown up in the status quo and can’t see that happening. Remember, millions and millions of people died so that we can have the right to speak today. We have only had that right for almost 250 years in the United States, a very short time.
Think harder what this really means. Personally, I do want sick people that have a voice, including terrorists, anti-government entities, etc… Those are just words, we can handle it. Don’t take away or marginalize what was fought so hard for by our ancestors.
Free speech is not just for comments or subjects you approve of. Voices of those we just like or don’t trust must be heard.
Epik did the right thing.
If you believe in censorship, then you believe in slavery and tyranny; move to a communist state.
I don’t have to like what people say, but preserving their right to do so; preserves my right to refute what they say. Orwell warned us of the dangers of the thought police…
Well said, Sigma.
Stop the Madness says
Very well said!
This is a good video to watch when contemplating the “big picture” on this:
“The Tech Purge Is Here And Truth Is The Target”
And in case anyone has been living under a rock lately, there has been a massive mega tsunami of censorship taking place before the so-called “mid-term” elections in the US. It’s not just for Alex Jones anymore – and, surprise (not), it never was – but is taking place against both so-called “right” and “left,” against whatever deviates from what is considered to be sufficiently “acceptable” establishment narrative and control of information, media, and yes, propaganda (legal in all 50 states, thank you).
This big picture not only most certainly affects the domain industry, but all of society.
Censorship and suppression – coming to a venue near you, under a pretext and pretense of “righteousness” and caring about the public. Rob Monster probably more genuinely cares about the subject matter and the alleged reason for what was done with Gab.com than any company that was involved, but the real test would be what happens if the “powers that be” try to pressure Epik into doing the same without true justification and contrary to the real principles involved.
Appreciate the video link.
I think many would be well served to read 1984, and study the history of censorship in its relation to communism, tyranny and mind control…
more than* (typo)
Reform School Kid says
if you don’t support Free Speech, you’re no different from the Nazi. End of story.
Corporations are not your friends. What they do only benefit them. They sell you a marketing line and you’re supposed to give up your freedom just like that.
I’m done with Godaddy. I’m going to look into transferring all my 3600 domains to Epik.
GoDaddy just committed a totally anti-American move.
They are the new back stabbers of democracy and freedom.
Eugene Fraxby says
Great news and congrats to Rob Monster for doing his bit to protect freedom of speech.
Robert Monster says
I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. Twitter thinks I am a really scary guy. The lovely people from ABC, NBC, PBS, Vice News, etc, etc like to show up unannounced, and some of them would happily quote me out of context. I warned my family to expect the worst and they are tough as nails.
You did the right thing in regards to standing up for freedom of speech. You could counter the leftist thought police campaign against you by connecting with Reason Magazine Editor Nick Gillespie.
I’m sure he would invite you on to discuss your thoughts on digital sovereignty.
Robert Monster says
It has been a day of dialog. I will say that much. Please give me a call at 425-765-0077 to discuss the topic of engaging the left in a balanced forum as they are not seeing the utility of compromise nor acknowledging that Gab is maturing into a more inclusive community that is prepared to work within its own published ToS.
Not sure if you heard about it, but Peter Thiel and Tim Ferriss both have been outspoken about the echo chamber and socialist thought police trend running rampant in Silicon Valley.
Thiel had a hand in developing PayPal. Ironically, a non-political alternative to PayPal is needed to fill the vacuum being created by digital censorship.
You should reach out to Nick G at Reason Magazine to further discuss the rise of digital McCarthyism.
Eugene Fraxby says
Hey Rob. For some UK support try Spiked https://www.spiked-online.com/. They are true Libertarians (neither right nor left). In particular Brendan O’Neill is usually on the button with a story such as this. He also appears often on Sky News in the UK giving more positive publicity to the stories he comments on.
One thing I would add here: the left-right paradigm in this society is nothing but a lie. It is nothing but pure and classic divide and conquer by which the sheep are led to slaughter on all sides. In this country (the US), it is nothing but two sides of the same “establishment” coin. The true big picture is not about left vs. right, socialism vs. capitalism, Democrats vs. Republicans, or anything of the sort, but much more. It is about truth, justice and light vs. lying, evil and darkness – no matter what source or slant such things come from. One need only look into what is really going on just a little bit: the tidal wave and current “new normal” of censorship and suppression is utterly equal opportunity against both left and right and more besides. The “establishment” in this country doesn’t care what America is supposed to be about, and the sheep have simply been made to forget. What Robert has done is remind people of one of the most foundational pillars of what that is here in the US, and more broadly what any free society and free world is supposed to be if there is to be any sound and successful pursuit of truth and light at all.
Amen, Eugene, couldn’t agree more.
Bill Kara says
When I read this news I wasn’t a bit surprised these 2 guys found each both circling the asshole of the internet.
Hopefully this draws some attention to Rob and how he was able to spend digital towns cash to buy domains on his privately held company and then bounce once he sucked that company dry. If any reporters are really digging deep, dig into Digital Town and the spread of BS Robs been trying to sell for years.
Rob you it will all catch up to you someday.
Robert Monster says
Thanks. Love you too, Bill!
Gray Beard says
I just watched the Andrew Torba interview Rob mentioned at the Epik blog. It’s really very good and worth watching. It also points out very well the extreme hypocrisy and double standard going on with this Gab.com affair. But there is certainly no mystery about it. Remember that Julian Assange was considered a great hero until he exposed the Hilary Clinton machine. And make no mistake, I say that as a nonpartisan independent, non-ideologue.
P.S. FYI, I have two comments still awaiting moderation that don’t appear yet.
Appearing now, see above, “One thing I would add here: the left-right paradigm in this society is nothing but a […].”
Michael Blend says
Rob made the wrong decision here. Gab is a cesspool of hate and violence-mongering. I am a strong Free Speech advocate, but Gab crosses the line from freedom of expression over into pure hatred.
Charles M. says
As I I understand it it was one member commenting out of millions of members.
You call that a cesspool of hate and violence mongering?
According to a study referred to in the interview video (see above), there is FAR more on Twitter than Gab that **might** be accurately described as such, if the study is accurate.
I do not believe you could really be a free speech advocate at all, though I don’t doubt you regard yourself to be one. I do not believe that anyone who can even talk about banning “hate speech” can really even have the slightest clue about how important free speech really is, and how utterly problematic and potentially and utterly ruinous seeking to ban “hate speech” really is (whatever “hate speech” even is according to whoever decided and gets to decide which is which). That even applies if someone explicitly labels their own speech as “hate speech” and says “I hate such and such.” It really seems that people either see the light on this or they don’t, and some simply don’t at all.
I should have mentioned Disqus, by the way. They need to be taken offline along with the “big three” of FB, T and YT according to the logic banning “hate speech.” If you looked into it honestly, however, you would see what I and others have been pointing to, how what has been going on is so utterly and blatantly selective, discriminatory, hypocritical, “double-standardized,” and so blatantly so that people need to wake up and realize what is really going on with this. “They” i.e. the ones doing censorship lately are not your friend – do you not see that – and this tsunami of censorship and suppression against both left, right and “other” is not being done for the reasons “they” want you to just believe and engage in moral outrage about like sheep.
FYI – should be obvious, but just to make sure please note the other “John” posting above is another person, not me.
Sean Sullivan says
Taking a position of being a defender of any kind of content (or free speech) is actually far less courageous than having the will to seek out the most pragmatic and beneficial decision for all people. Hate speech on GAB is no different than a swastika spray painted on a public building. Both are trying to evoke a message and emotion. To suggest that a commercial business is required to support all forms of content, or that it should, otherwise face criticism, is just lazy. We should all strive to be willing to make the hard decisions, not the reflexive knee-jerk reactionary ones. GAB’s being lazy, purposefully lazy, and are likely disingenuous free speech advocates. Their position is a controversial and not an usual one for emerging communication services.
“Support the internet’s assholes. Upset a lot of people. Get headlines. Reach scale. Publicly reconsider that position at a later date. Cash out.”
A lot of former Reditt founders regret their early decisions which are basically the same ones that GAB faces.
Scott Ross says
Why is it that those who most passionately defend the virtue of free speech pontificate freely in digital anonymity, rather than taking principled ownership of their commentary by headlining their full and correct name? Is that free speech?
Or Oz, hiding behind the curtain?