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Gab is a social networking platform which allows users to post messages, called "gabs," up to 300 characters in length. The site was created as an alternative to other social media platforms due to speculation of left-leaning bias.
On August 15th, 2016, the Gab beta was launched by founder and CEO Andrew Torba in Austin, Texas. In an email with BuzzFeed News, Torba claimed the site was created to compete with "the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly." In November 2016, Fox News published an interview with Torba, who claimed the site was gaining traction due to Twitter's censorship of conservatives. In May 2017, the site opened up to allow new accounts by registering with an email address.
On November 2nd, 2016, Vice News released a video calling Gab "Twitter For Racists" (shown below). On December 17th, The Guardian published an article on Gab written by Andrew Anthony titled "Inside the hate-filled echo chamber of racism and conspiracy theories."
On September 5th, Torba appeared as a guest on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight (shown below). That evening, the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters published an article titled "Tucker Carlson defends Gab, a social media app dubbed 'a haven for white nationalists'."
The following day, The Daily Dot published an article titled "Social network favored by white supremacists gets a user boost from Fox News." Also on September 6th, Torba posted a video on Twitter claiming that the "Alt-Left" were trying to falsely portray the site as a platform for white supremacists (shown below).
Soros-backed Media Matters and Alt Left groups furious over Gab on Fox https://t.co/4D56tNDKKZ— Gab (@getongab) September 6, 2017
On February 23rd, 2019, the Gab CEO Andrew Torba held a livestream showing a preview of their "Dissenter" browser extension that allows users of the social network to post comments on any web page, preventing news outlets and other platforms from moderating user comments on their content. Additionally, the extension provides a news ticker for users to discover trending content and a random button.
On February 26th, the @getongab Twitter feed posted screenshots of Dissenter comments posted "on the censored Captain Marvel Rotten Tomatoes website" (shown below).
The Dissenter comments on the censored Captain Marvel Rotten Tomatoes website are 😂 pic.twitter.com/XVCkEMp04N— 🆕By Gab: Dissenter.com (@getongab) February 26, 2019
Following reports that 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting suspect Robert Bowers had busing the social media website Gab to share antisemitic beliefs, various companies began cutting ties with Gab, including PayPal, who told the Verge "The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions. When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action."
Additionally, Joynet, Gab's hosting provider, and Gab's payment processor, Stripe, also began cutting ties with the company. Finally, GoDaddy gave Gab 24 hours to find a new domain or the site would be suspended.
In response to the "no-platforming" of Gab, the company tweeted, "The left couldn’t control Gab. The media couldn’t control Gab. Venture capitalists couldn’t control Gab. Advertisers couldn’t control Gab. Whining activists couldn’t control Gab. Big Tech couldn’t control Gab. So Gab needed to be smeared and taken offline at all costs." The tweet received more than 1,200 retweets and 2,300 likes in 24 hours (shown below, left).
On October 29th, the company tweeted, "Gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist. Because of the data we provided, they now have plenty of evidence for their case. Please pray for all involved and the victims." The post received more than 345 retweets and 790 likes in 24 hours (shown below, right).
Speaking to Gizmodo, Michael Edison Hayden, an open source intelligence analyst at Storyful, criticized Gab and referred to it as a hub of right-wing radicalization. He said:
Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, will get angry when people for call his site a white nationalist website or an alt-right website but anyone who spends time on it knows that it’s a haven for extremists. Violent white supremacist groups like Patriot Front and Atomwaffen Division organize out in the open on Gab. Users frequently call for the murder of women, Jews and other minorities on Gab, and are rewarded with likes and reposts….[Charleston, South Carolina church shooter] Dylann Roof is treated as a hero by many Gab users."