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If you read the nearly 10,000 word entry for Gab on Wikipedia, you might come away convinced it is a haven for right wing hatred. Abundant examples are cited. Founder Andre Torba claims Gab exists to counter, as he puts it, “the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly.”
It would be foolish to suggest that right wing hate doesn’t exist, or that right wing haters aren’t active on Gab. But a coordinated campaign to silence Gab, to eliminate it as a viable platform, creates a cure that is worse than the disease.
In late 2020 another alternative platform, Parler, was denied hosting services by Amazon at the same time as Apple and Google removed Parler from their app store. After a few months, Parler limped back to life, but it may never be the same.
The difference between Gab and Parler are two-fold. Both of them – just as has happened with Facebook and Twitter – have had users who posted material that went beyond hate, which is protected speech, to calls for violence, which is not. But Gab’s continuity as a platform for alternative voices has given it credibility with right wing users. In turn, this is because Gab has developed their own internally owned server infrastructure that has expanded apace with the growth of their user base, which happened slower and over a longer period of time than Parler.
Now Gab is under attack by banks, which should come as no surprise. The financial sector, under enormous coordinated pressure from leftist pressure groups, has been cutting off services to individual users – Andy Ngo, Laura Loomer, RedPill78, and Lana Lokteff are just a few examples of content creators who have been banned by payment processors. In Lokteff’s case, she has been put on the MATCH list, blacklisting her from using any financial services.
In response to being denied services by four banks in four weeks, Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba has stated his intention to buy and operate his own bank. Gab has shown extraordinary resourcefulness in keeping its technology infrastructure independent. It will be interesting to see if they can do the same with their financial infrastructure.
As platforms grow, it becomes almost impossible to control what people post. Facebook, with billions of users, lets speech that crosses the line – not just hateful, but inciting violence – at a far greater absolute quantity than Gab. But Facebook, with its almost limitless resources, can maintain massive censorship operations using teams of monitors and programmers. You have that ability when you’re a monopoly, raking in more cash than you can spend. Even if Gab were not outspoken in defense of free speech, they are at an inherent disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Big Tech bias makes platforms like Gab necessary. Consider how NPR distorts the purpose of Gab. They write: “Founded in 2016 as an almost anti-Twitter, the platform embraces far-right and other extremist provocateurs, like Milo Yiannopoulos…”
Stop right there.
Milo Yiannopoulos? If you want to propagandize unfairly against Gab, mention the posts made on Gab by the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, and ignore the fact that violent psychos slip through the cracks at a far greater volume on the big platforms.
Using Milo Yiannopoulos as an example of why Gab is problematic is a joke. Yiannopoulos has never called for violence. He’s never done anything more than offer takedowns – often grotesquely offensive but usually hilarious – of progressive pieties. The fact that Yiannopoulos has been driven off the mainstream platforms and has found a home on Gab is precisely the reason why Gab, and multiplying sites just like Gab, must continue to exist.
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