Gab CEO Andrew Torba Condemns Threats of Violence Against Social Network's Hackers

The CEO of social network Gab has said he has "zero tolerance" for threats of violence against people deemed to be "attacking" his platform after a transparency website said it had obtained a 70 gigabyte trove of its user data.

Boss Andrew Torba, who launched the platform in 2016, said in a blog post on Monday
that he was informed about the hack last weekend and had been sent a ransom notice demanding payment of nearly $500,000 worth of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

Last Sunday, Torba lashed out at those responsible on Gab's Twitter account, using a transphobic slur and branding the culprits "demon hackers."

In a separate post shared on his Gab profile on Monday, Torba clarified: "I want to make clear that we have zero tolerance for any threats of violence including against the wicked people who are attacking Gab. We need to pray for these people. I am."

The transparency group that obtained the hacked records, Distributed Denial of Secrets, said in its own post Monday the leak contained public and private posts, profiles data, hashed passwords, direct messages and plaintext passwords for groups.

The incident was first reported by Wired. The WikiLeaks-like group said that a hacktivist had exfiltrated the data from Gab's databases to expose its right-wing users.

The large dataset, which was not published in full, reportedly included over 70,000 user messages from over 19,000 chats by 15,000 users, in a plaintext format.

Distributed Denial of Secrets co-founder Emma Best told Wired the "GabLeaks" release held "pretty much everything on Gab, including user data and private posts, everything someone needs to run a nearly complete analysis on Gab users and content."

The collective previously released files taken from the Twitter alternative social network Parler and BlueLeaks, which it described as being data from "over 200 different law enforcement fusion centers, training centers and other police field offices."

The police leak led the Department of Homeland Security to brand Distributed Denial of Secrets as a "criminal hacker group" in a bulletin, The Verge reported.

The Gab files will not be published online due to the "large amount of private information and password hashes it contains," Distributed Denial of Secrets said on Monday.

Instead, the trove would be shared with people who have a record of doing research in the public interest, on the basis that it would not be republished in a raw format.

Torba objected to that approach in his March 1 blog, saying the ransom demand would have been meaningless if the platform had released the full dataset online.

He wrote: "DDS made an exception in our case which we cannot currently explain. This exception... assisted a third-party who, at the same time as DDS was preparing to leak our documents, secretly sent us emailed threats and ransom demands."

The blog post was titled: "Gab Does Not Negotiate With Criminal Demons." Distributed Denial of Secrets said his term had become an "instant meme" and actually worked to increase the amount of attention the Gab information leak had received.

DDoSecrets said it had "no role in the compromise of Gab or any other service and did not crack any password hashes [or] use any of the plaintext group passwords."

Typing on keyboard: stock
Stock image: Person typing on a keyboard. The CEO of social network Gab has said he has “zero tolerance” for threats of violence against people deemed to be “attacking” his platform after a transparency website said it had obtained a 70 gigabyte trove of its user data. iStock