Gab (social network)
Type of site
|Social networking service|
|Headquarters||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
August 2016 (beta)|
May 2017 (open registration)
|Written in||PHP, Laravel|
Gab is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based social networking service formerly based in Austin, Texas. It was created as an alternative to Twitter and promotes itself as supporting free speech. It allows its users to read and write messages of up to 300 characters, called "gabs". The site also offers multimedia functionality.
Gab was created in August 2016 as an alternative to the popular social network Twitter. Founder and CEO Andrew Torba cited "the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly" as part of the inspiration for Gab, which he created "after reading reports that Facebook employees suppress conservative articles". Torba said in November that the site's user base had expanded significantly following censorship controversies involving major social media companies, including the permanent suspensions from Twitter of several prominent alt-right accounts.
In December 2016, Gab.ai's submission of its app to the iOS App Store was declined by Apple. Apple cited pornographic content as the reason. At the same time, Twitter also cut off access to its API without specifying a reason. A resubmitted version of the app which blocked pornography by default was also rejected for violating Apple's rules on hate speech.
On July 22, 2017, the site added Pro accounts and on August 1, 2017, Gab TV was opened up to Pro members. It was described as a service for creating Periscope-like video streaming channels. According to Andrew Torba, the site was hit with a DDoS attack soon afterwards.
On August 17, 2017, Google removed Gab's app from the Google Play Store for violating its policy against hate speech. Google stated that the app did not "demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people." In September 2017, Gab filed an antitrust suit against Google for their removal of the Gab app from the Google Play Store but dropped the suit on October 22, 2017.
In September 2017, Gab faced pressure from its domain registrar to take down a post by Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin. Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation commented that this pressure was part of an increase in politically motivated domain name seizures.
On August 9, 2018, Torba announced that Microsoft Azure, Gab's host, threatened to suspend the site for "weeks/months" if they didn't remove two Antisemitic posts made by Patrick Little, a political candidate who had previously been ejected from the GOP for his antisemitism. According to The Verge, the posts "express intense anti-Semitism and meet any reasonable definition of hate speech." Little deleted the posts while saying the complaint was a violation of his rights as an American. On that same day, Alex Jones interviewed Torba on The Alex Jones Show during his coverage of his own permanent ban from YouTube.
The site has been described as a favorite of alt-right users who have been banned or suspended from other services, including former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, formerly anonymous Twitter user "Ricky Vaughn", and white supremacists such as Richard B. Spencer, Tila Tequila, Vox Day, and Britain First. Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab.ai, was himself removed from the Y Combinator alumni network because of harassment concerns, starting when he used "build the wall" to insult a Latino CEO. Until 2016, Torba was registered as a Democrat, although he voted for Donald Trump and other Republicans.
Other alt-right and conservative media personalities, including Carl Benjamin, Ann Coulter, Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern and Paul Joseph Watson, were found to be among Gab's most popular users in a 2018 study of the platform. The authors also performed an automated search using hatebase and found "hate words" in 5.4% of Gab posts, which they stated was 2.4 times higher than Twitter and 2.2 times lower than 4chan's politically incorrect board.
Notable former users include white nationalist political candidate Paul Nehlen, who was kicked-off the site for doxing Ricky Vaughn, and blackhat hacker Andrew Auernheimer (known as weev) who was banned for calling for genocide against Jews and endorsing terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Auernheimer's activity prompted threats from Gab's then webhost Asia Registry to remove the comments or they would refuse to host the site. Gab has since found another host.
Gab has been described as "Twitter for racists" by Salon, a "hate-filled echo chamber of racism and conspiracy theories" by The Guardian, and "safe haven for banned Twitter trolls, Gamergaters, Pizzagaters and high-profile white nationalists" by Mic. An editorial in Wired criticized Gab for not explicitly prohibiting hate speech. The only restrictions on expression on the site are on threats of violence, promotion of terrorism, child pornography, revenge porn and doxing.
Torba has denied that Gab is "designed specifically for conservatives" and has stated that "we welcome everyone and always will". He has further said that "We want everyone to feel safe on Gab, but we're not going to police what is hate speech and what isn't". In response to criticism, in March 2017, Gab announced its plans to make the site more diverse by removing the downvote button. According to Torba, this feature was also being abused by "social justice warriors".
Gab does not use advertising. The site began offering a premium subscription service for Gab named "Gab Pro" in April 2017. Gab Pro has a monthly option for $5.99 a month. The subscription allows users to have private chats for up to 25 people, which was later added for all users with two users maximum and Gab Pro with 50 maximum. Messages are deleted after 24 hours. Gab Pro subscribers can also view a topic breakdown for other users, make lists of users to sort their home feed, livestream on GabTV (Gab's video-sharing service), and more easily get their profile verified. Subscribers also get a "PRO" badge next to their posts. In July 2017 Gab also started an investment project which met its goal of $1.07 million on August 19, 2017.
On August 15, 2017, Torba announced plans for its own cryptocurrency, expecting Gab to be subject to "blacklisting" by third-party payment processors.
Gab's color theme is a minimalist combination of black text on white panels with pink hashtags and usernames. Pro users have a contrasted top bar in dark blue closer to that of Facebook. The interface "behaves like a Twitter-Reddit hybrid", displaying messages in a Twitter-like vertically-scrolling timeline format with a Reddit-like option to upvote or downvote each post. The site also aggregates popular posts and trending topic hashtags. Users can sort comments and posts in a subject by time or score. Default biographies for new users display a randomly chosen quotation about the importance of free speech.
When writing a gab, Gabbers without a Pro subscription can post up to 300 characters of plain text, while those with a Pro account can write up to 3,000 characters per gab. The first 300 characters of a gab appear in the timeline, with an option to read the rest of a gab if it is longer. Additional functionality is similar to Twitter, using # to create hashtags and @ to reference other users by username. Gabs can embed some multimedia, currently limited to emoji, photo upload, and Giphy animated GIFs. In addition, hyperlinks can be embedded, with some content such as YouTube videos displaying a thumbnail preview. Each Gab account can optionally be linked to a Twitter account for cross-posting, which can be enabled or disabled before a gab is published. When enabled, the gab is tweeted up to around the first 100 characters, along with a link to the gab.
In July 2017, Gab implemented a system where people who downvoted others (through spamming) would have their account downvoted too and their ability to leave downvotes revoked. Downvotes were subsequently removed entirely. Gab COO Utsav Sanduja explained that downvotes were being used to drive female users off the site. Downvoting was later reinstated; as of December 2017 both upvotes and downvotes are possible, but the totals are tracked and displayed separately rather than being combined into a single score.
A frog named "Gabby" is the current logo of Gab. Torba has said that the frog logo was inspired by Bible verses (Exodus 8:1-8:12 and Psalms 78:45) and various other traditional symbolic meanings. The logo has been compared to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character commonly used as a meme by the alt-right.
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April Community Update: 465,000 total Gabbers
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