Type of site
|Social networking service|
|Alexa rank||7,691 |
|Users||800,000 (November 2018)|
|Launched||August 2016 (beta)|
May 2017 (open registration)
|Written in||PHP, Laravel|
Gab is an English-language social media website, known for its mainly far-right user base. The site allows its users to read and write multimedia messages of up to 300 characters, called "gabs". The site stated conservative, libertarian, nationalists and populist internet users as its target markets. Gab has been described as "extremist friendly" or a "safe haven" for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right.
The site presents itself as an "alternative of Twitter" that "champions free speech". This self-promotion of "free speech" has been criticised in research articles as "merely a shield behind which its alt-right users hide", and "an echo chamber for right-leaning content dissemination". Gab attracted migration of users banned from other social networks, including members of the far right. A majority of Gab's users are white, a majority are male, and a majority are conservative. Gab had 800,000 users in November 2018. The site's most followed users include high-profile far-right individuals such as Richard B. Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and Alex Jones. The site recognizes far-right websites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars as its competitors.
The site gained extensive public scrutiny following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on October 27, 2018 as the perpetrator's final post on Gab, following a history of anti-Semitic posts about the mass killing of Jews, announced his imminent attack. After a backlash from hosting providers, Gab briefly went offline.
Gab was created in August 2016, billing itself as an alternative to the social networking site 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.
After nine months of closed beta testing the site became available to anyone registering with an email.
On July 22, 2017, the site added Pro accounts and on August 1, 2017, Gab TV was opened to Pro members. It was described[who?] as a service for creating Periscope-like video streaming channels. According to 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 The 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 failed to remove two antisemitic posts made by Patrick Little, a political candidate who had been ejected from the Republican Party 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.
Gab has used the address of a WeWork coworking space in Philadelphia in SEC filings. A WeWork spokesperson said that Torba had become a member under his own name, not Gab's, and that his time there had been brief. In October 2018, a Gab spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gab was at that point no longer based in Philadelphia.
The site is a favorite of far right, or "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 commented "build the wall" to insult the CEO of Y Combinator. Until 2016, Torba was registered as a Democrat, although he voted for Donald Trump and other Republicans.
In early 2018, a cross-university group released a research study on posts made to the site. According to that study, the site hosted a high volume of racism and hate speech, and primarily "attracts alt-right users, conspiracy theorists, and other trolls". The study listed Carl Benjamin, Ann Coulter, Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, and Paul Joseph Watson as some of the more popular users of the site. 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 their occurrence on Twitter but less than half that found on 4chan's politically incorrect board. The authors of the study concluded that while anyone can join Gab, the site is aligned with the alt-right and its use of free speech rhetoric "merely functions as a shield for its alt-right users to hide behind".
Another research study in late 2018 concluded that Gab is crowded by extremist users. The study found that 35% of Gab users followed at least one extremist individual listed by the ADL and the SPLC. 61% of individuals in ADL's list have Gab accounts. Number of posts and followers of these extremist Gab users far exceed average Gab users, indicating that they are more active in the system. Among Gab's users, a majority are "conservative, male, and Caucasian". The study showed a great variety in domains of shared URLs on Gab. Most of these domains are not popular in other social media or other parts of the Internet. A portion of these domains are known for spreading politics-related news. This has led to the conclusion that Gab "has become an echo chamber for right-leaning content dissemination".
In addition to allowing Holocaust denial and other forms of anti-Semitism, Gab has been used as a recruitment tool by violent neo-Nazi groups, including the Atomwaffen Division, which has been tied to a number of murders. In 2018, threats by a Gab user against an African-American member of the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee that included pictures of weapons and racial slurs prompted a police investigation, although no charges were ultimately filed. The user's previous posts had included one that asked "Why aren't we organizing and killing leftists in droves?"
Notable former users include white nationalist political candidate Paul Nehlen, who was removed from 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.
Robert Gregory Bowers, the sole suspected shooter in the attack against a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 maintained an active, verified Gab account where he displayed the neo-Nazi code-phrase 1488. Just prior to the shooting, he posted to the site about a conspiracy theory that refugees being assisted by a Jewish organization were "invaders", and that he was "going in". In the aftermath of the shooting, Gab removed his profile and provided the information to the FBI. On October 27, 2018 soon after the shooting, PayPal, GoDaddy and Medium terminated their relationship with Gab based on its review of accounts that may engage in the "perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance". Later on the same day, Gab announced on Twitter that Joyent, Gab's hosting provider, would terminate their service on Monday. The tweet said that the site expected to be down for weeks. Since the shooting, Gab has received substantial media attention, having been relatively unknown by the general public prior to the attack. Gab came back online on November 4, 2018 after Epik.com agreed to host the domain.
Jeffrey Clark, a D.C. area neo-Nazi, was arrested on November 9 after his family members alerted law enforcement. Clark was a "friend" of Bowers on Gab. Clark wrote in Gab that the shooting was a "dry run for things to come" and that the victims "were all active supporters of pedophilia" who "deserved exactly what happened". The "pinned" message on Clark's Gab account was an altered screenshot of the video game Doom depicting execution of black people in a church, an allusion to white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof, and the same code word "1488". Clark was charged with illegal possession of a firearm while using or addicted to a controlled substance and with possession of a high-speed magazine.
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". In filings made with the SEC in 2016, Gab admitted that its target market is "conservative, libertarian, nationalists and populist internet users around the world", and listed far-right conspiracy theorist websites Breitbart News and InfoWars as its main competitors. 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".
The platform itself has engaged in antisemitic commentary. On October 31, 2018, the Washington Post pointed to two messages on the Gab Twitter account and wrote that they "raise questions about whether they cross the line into impropriety". One captioned a photo of two men, one with Jewish sidelocks, with "I'm calling the cops on both and getting my shotgun ready, just saying" and another argued for opposition to immigration by saying "Let a bunch of Somalians migrate to your neighborhood and see if you change your mind." Torba alternately explained the tweets as possibly fake or doctored, later "clearly satire / comedy", and then much later, "a few edgy tweets posted by interns". The tweets were later deleted.
Gab does not use advertising. The site began offering a premium subscription service for Gab named "Gab Pro" in April 2017. 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.
This section needs to be updated.(March 2018)
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. The default profile picture for new users to the site features NPC Wojak, a popular far-right internet meme.
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, 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 accounts downvoted as well and their ability to leave downvotes revoked. Downvotes were removed entirely. Gab's then-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" was the logo of Gab as of 2016. Torba claimed that the frog logo was inspired by Bible verses (Exodus 8:1-12 and Psalms 78:45) and various other traditional symbolic meanings. Sanduja claimed that the frog was meant to symbolize the "revenge against those who went against mainstream conservative voices on the internet". The logo has been compared to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character appropriated by the alt-right. As of September 2018 , the frog logo was no longer used.
We are using a PHP framework called Laravel for the major part of Gab services...
We also show that the majority of Gab users are conservative, male, and Caucasian.
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