What is Gab and who owns it? Donald Trump supporters flock to controversial site that violated hate speech policy
The site tweeted that it was gaining over 10,000 users an hour on January 9, 2020, and had received '12M visits in past 12 hours' just before 11 am
Where will President Donald Trump go, now that he has been permanently suspended from Twitter? One of his most prominent options was Parler — a far-right microblogging and social networking service launched in August 2018 — which has been suspended from Google Play and Apple Store after a 24-hour warning.
Amid all the ruckus, right-leaning social media users in the United States have flocked to social site Gab. The networking platform, according to recent reports, reported massive growth following the violent Capitol riots. The site was earlier the focus of major public scrutiny after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018, when the sole suspect, Robert Gregory Bowers, was said to have posted a message on Gab.
Back in October 2018, around 465,000 to 800,000 users were reportedly on the platform. By July 2020, the registered users increased to 1.1M, according to Fox Business. Moreover, it had 3.7M monthly visitors worldwide.
On January 6, 2020, a report from NPR said Gab CEO Andrew Torba had reported that site traffic jumped 40% and just three days later, the site tweeted that it was gaining over 10,000 users an hour on January 9, 2020, and had received “12m visits in past 12 hours” just before 11 am.
The site's Twitter handle is now flooded with pro-Trump tweets and posts on how to create an account on the social media platform. One of them reads: “Stay tuned for pre-order information. Andrew Torba. CEO, Gab.com. January 9th, 2021. Jesus Christ is King. Donald Trump is President.”
Here are some of the tweets posted by Gab.com that are gaining much traction.
We have tens of thousands of volunteer users who monitor the site for threats and illegal activity. They escalate it to us and if necessary, we escalate it to law enforcement. Our moderation is decentralized via Gab groups, which are moderated by users themselves.— Gab.com (@getongab) January 9, 2021
Moderation on Gab is decentralized by way of Gab Groups, which have thousands of user moderators who escalate any illegal activity to our internal moderation and legal teams. We also have thousands of volunteers and existing Gab customers who keep an eye out for this activity.— Gab.com (@getongab) January 10, 2021
You can't get banned from Amazon when you own your own servers like we do. It's not just "build your own social network." It's build your own:— Gab.com (@getongab) January 9, 2021
So that's exactly what we did. https://t.co/gOgwPGoQQM
We will NEVER bend the knee to this anti-American tyrant.— Gab.com (@getongab) January 9, 2021
We will therefore never be on the App Store. Free speech cannot exist in Apple and Google ecosystems. Period.
That's fine, where we are going we don't need an App Store.
The Gab Smartphone is next. https://t.co/zY7I7KK1uG
What is Gab?
Known as a haven for neo-Nazis, White supremacists and the alt-right, the social networking service attracts groups that have been banned from other social networks with its “free speech and individual liberty” tag. Over the years, the site has been criticized for using freedom as a cover-up for its alt-right and extremist ecosystem. Moreover, the site's content seems to reek of antisemitism and has been “repeatedly linked to radicalization leading to real-world violent events”.
Launched in May 2017, the site claims it believes that “the future of online publishing is decentralized and open”.
A message in the about section of the website reads: “Gab Social is a fresh take on one of the Internet's most popular applications: social networking. You, the user, have a choice when using Gab Social: you can either have an account on Gab.com or, if you don't like what we're doing on Gab.com or simply want to manage your own experience, you can spin up your own Gab Social server that you control, that allows you to communicate with millions of users on their own federated servers from around the world, including users on Gab.”
“Gab.com strives to be the home of free speech online. We work on Gab Social 100% of the time as our full-time jobs. We positively encourage you to either join us on Gab.com or to spin up your own Gab Social server that you control to help take back control of the Web for the People.”
The layout of Gab displays has trending posts in the center, aggregated news to the right, and a menu and explore section to the left. Its headquarters is located at 700 North State Street, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, US.
Who founded Gab?
Founded by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andrew Torba, Gab has several major players in its cabinet. Ekrem Büyükkaya is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) who once called the site “the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly”. In October 2016, Utsav Sanduja joined Gab as Chief Operating Officer (COO).
In private beta, the site first launched on August 15, 2016. A month later, Gab AI, Inc was incorporated on September 6, 2016. Torba explained that the reason he created the site was “the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly” and claimed the conservative articles on Facebook were biased. His Instagram account — with the handle Jesus Is King aka @torbahax — is private and has about 1,200 followers.
Back in November 2016, Torba said the user base expanded after censorship controversies. In an article, he wrote, “We’re building an alternative Internet. Gab is 100% funded by our community of people, not big corporate sponsors. On Gab you are the customer, not the product being sold. We’d like to send a special thank you to our donors, investors, and GabPRO customers who made today possible. Thank you also to our team of engineers behind the scenes who worked tirelessly for over a year to make this happen.”
In 2017, Gab was removed from Google Play Store for violating its hate speech policy. Not just that, Apple's App Store also rejected it for similar reasons. And just one year later, in 2018, its original domain host, Go Daddy, dropped it after news reports said that the gunman accused of killing 11 congregants in a Pittsburgh synagogue was a frequent user of the site.
The site was then taken down and at that time, a message was splashed saying “under attack” and being “systematically no-platformed”. On November 4, 2018, it was back after Epik agreed to register the domain. At that time, the CEO of Epik, Rob Monster, defended the site saying Gab's neo-Nazi users were “liberal trolls looking to give enemies of freedom an excuse”.
Often dubbed as “Twitter for racists”, the company turned to cryptocurrency payment processing services after PayPal and Stripe rejected it in the aftermath of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.