What is Gab?
Since it was founded in 2016, the social media network Gab has grown to be a popular place for far-right personalities like Infowars founder Alex Jones as well as speech that is white nationalist and anti-Semitic.
According to the information on its website, Gab, which was established in 2016, calls itself the “free speech social network” and states that its goal is to “defend, protect and preserve free speech online for all people,”
Users can publish what it refers to as “gabs” of no more than 300 characters on the platform, which resembles a cross between Facebook and Twitter (TWTR). Gab, however, offers essentially no control of the content users upload, in contrast to those popular social media platforms.
Additionally, Gab offers a pro subscription tier, a store for items, and its own “Dissenter” web browser extension that generates its own commenting system.
According to the website for the platform, “We believe that the future of online publishing is decentralized and open,” “We believe that users of social networks should be able to control their social media experience on their own terms, rather than the terms set down by Big Tech.”
According to a US Securities and Exchange Commission annual report, as of April 2020, Gab had 1,157,000 total registered accounts and 3.7 million monthly visitors globally.
What Causes the Controversy?
In addition to numerous posts of horrific bigotry and racism, Gab’s casual approach to content has allowed for the spread of QAnon conspiracy theories, false information, and anti-Semitic remarks, much of which wouldn’t be permitted on today’s well-known social applications (although mainstream social networks have their own problems moderating extremism as well).
With one exception, Gab claims to “illegal activity, threats of violence, doxing, pornography, child exploitation and spam,” posts that contain “prevent and remove.”
Some well-known conservative voices, some of whom have been blocked from more mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, are also present on the contentious messaging service, including Richard Spencer and Alex Jones.
White House officials were considering setting up a Gab account for President Trump after Twitter banned him. That is until Jared Kushner rejected the notion due to anti-Semitic remarks made on the network.
Why Is It Prohibited?
Following the revelation that the alleged shooter at the Pittsburgh synagogue used the network to threaten and harass Jews, Gab first came under the public spotlight in 2018. The message appeared on the suspect’s profile:
“I cannot stand idly by as my people be massacred. I’m entering, so screw your optics “just after reportedly killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue.
- 2018 saw a statement from Gab stating that the company “unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence.” Moreover, it claimed to have informed the FBI and suspended the account.
- Following the shooting, it was made to go offline after being prohibited for violating their policies against hate speech by online payment processors PayPal (PYPL) and Stripe, domain registrar GoDaddy, and website hosting provider Joylent.
- The network has managed to stay up despite efforts by Big Tech firms to take it down. Its website is currently registered with a different registrar, Epik, which accepted the platform in 2018.
The Owner of Gab?
Conservative Republican Christian entrepreneur Andrew Torba, who supports Donald Trump, established the website Gab. In response to claims that social media sites like Facebook were biased against conservatives, Torba, who formerly worked in Silicon Valley, founded the alternative network.
Torba stated to the Washington Post in 2016: “I didn’t set out to build a ‘conservative social network’ by any means, but I felt that it was time for a conservative leader to step up and to provide a forum where anybody can come and speak freely without fear of censorship,”
“Every major communication outlet, every major social network, is run, owned, controlled and operated by progressive leaders, progressive workers in Silicon Valley,” he claimed to The Washington Post.
What’s Coming up for Gab?
In order to ascertain whether the site “intentionally aided, conspired with or directed” individuals who attacked the Capitol on January 6, Gab is now facing a request from the Anti-Defamation League for a criminal inquiry.
The anti-hate organization pointed out in an open letter on Wednesday that at least one story claimed Gab members had been exchanging “directions for which streets to take to avoid the police and which tools to bring to help pry open doors.”
To combat violent groups, the tech sector employed “the nuclear option.”
Additionally, the ADL identified posts in which Torba advised users who were “heading to DC” to “record footage in landscape mode while filming” and “document as much as you can.” Torba’s post from the day of the attack is also cited, in which he claims that “in a system with rigged elections, there are no longer any viable political solutions.”
In response, Gab asked for a probe into Facebook, the platform where protests were planned. Additionally, the corporation claimed to have “an immediate stop to a series of newly created accounts that were making threats of violence aimed at public officials.” a number of recently created accounts that had been making threats of violence against public servants.
In a statement, Torba noted that in the weeks before the protest on January 6th, “We worked diligently with law enforcement and spent several weeks warning our community about this behavior and taking swift action to remove it from our platform in the weeks prior to the January 6th protest,” “To safeguard public safety, our teams in moderation and law are constantly at work. Gab is not the place for threats of violence or unlawful action.”
Since Its Debut in 2016, Gab Has Frequently Been Blocked by Major Digital Corporations.
Similar to how Google, Amazon, and Apple limited Parler when pro-Trump protestors stormed the US Capitol, big digital corporations have already restricted Gab.
Because of its pornographic and anti-Semitic content, Apple stopped the Gab app in 2016, and Google removed it from its Google Play store. Before withdrawing the case, Gab sued Google over the block.
In 2017, the website’s online domain registrar threatened to ban Gab for continuing to publish racist and anti-Semitic content in violation of the law. Despite removing the author of the posts, a company spokeswoman claimed that they were still “looking for a domain registrar provider that supports lawful, politically incorrect free speech.”
Microsoft threatened to ban Gab from using its Azure cloud computing service in August 2018 due to anti-Semitic remarks encouraging “vengeance” against Jews and the destruction of Holocaust memorial museums. The posts were eventually removed by the Gab user who authored them.
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