Now that the powers that be at Twitter and Facebook are flexing their proverbial muscles and are busy messing with search algorithms and deleting accounts of the “alt-right” for hate speech, a new social media platform is getting a lot of attention.
Gab, a social media site where the first amendment is printed on the splash page, and the bug symbol is Pepe the frog (a Spanish name for the symbol of the French? Okay), was started in August 2016 in response to Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos’ banishment from Twitter for harassment. The idea of the platform is to allow unrestricted free speech, other than pornography, private information, threats and terrorism. (That’s on the guidelines page.) The look and feel of the site is described this way by The Guardian:
Looking like a cleanly designed hybrid of Twitter and Reddit, it allows users to post updates without character limits, with memes, links and gifs.
The Guardian goes on to say that the site supposedly has tens of thousands of people on a wait list. This writer went to sign up, and this is what popped on the screen.
Looks like a lot of conservatives got there before me. According to the confirmation email, it may well take up to two weeks to become a gabber since demand is so high, and the system is still in beta.
Those who have been able to get in – reportedly the service currently has tens of thousands of people on its waiting list – will see that many of the most read and upvoted content comes from alt-right accounts that have long since been bounced from Twitter. As a result, spending time on Gab feels like hanging out with exiled ghosts.
It’s as if the political left did not think that the “alt-right” and other conservatives wouldn’t go looking for another way and place to congregate online. (Do they really think we are that wishy washy and undetermined?) The Guardian, and a number of other leftist, and left leaning publications claim that Gab is basically a gathering place for white supremacy racists, but the founder, Andrew Torba, says no.
Gab founder and CEO of the service, Andrew Torba, insisted in a “gab” that “we welcome everyone and always will”. But so far, you need to look pretty hard to find accounts not posting a pro-Trump line.
Torba also says that it is not “Twitter for racists”. But there is no shortage of racially charged material to be found there.
The motto at Gab is #SpeakFreely, and that does have to include racists (that doesn’t mean that the other users can’t vote the material down, though). So, who is speaking freely at Gab? Ann Coulter, Paul Joseph Watson, Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, and other familiar names on the American political right bannished from other social media platforms for the crime of supporting Donald Trump for president.
Torba, actually, was one of the few Silicon Valley visionaries who was pro-Trump. The other people in the technological hotspot aren’t too happy with him, actually, and last week he was kicked out of Y Combinator, an incubation/venture capital/mentoring group that is considered to be one of the best tech company producers in the country.
On Thursday, he doubled down on the triumphalism.
The left wing has asserted full control of Twitter now, so the right wing will just have to make do with #Gab, #WeSearchr, Breitbart, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the White House. #MAGA”
Meanwhile Torba is ecstatic. Like Dickinson, he’s a pro-Trump Silicon Valley identity whose views and behavior have put him offside with some big players.
Before Gab, he founded a social media ad automator. But just last week, he was banned from startup incubator Y Combinator after the organization alleged that he spoke in “a threatening, harassing way” to other members on Facebook in a succession of discussions where he supported Trump.
But on Gab this Tuesday, he was celebrating the service’s newfound success: “Today has been Gab’s biggest day yet. Time to upgrade our hosting. :)”
It could well be that Gab becomes a hang out for the #AltRight if no one else joins the party. In the meantime, since Twitter and Facebook are exercising their version of social engineering via censorship, conservatives may as well congregate where we can at least talk without fear of retribution.
For more information about Andrew Torba being exiled from Y Combinator, visit Breitbart.