Gab

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Gab is an English-language social network known for lenient policies on free expression. Gab has been the target of censorship by payment processors, domain registrars, and hosting providers. It is frequently attacked in the mainstream media.

Gab primarily attracts conservative, libertarian and nationalist users who have been banned from other social networks. CEO Andrew Torba has stated that Gab is "not designed specifically for conservatives" and has stated that "we welcome everyone and always will".

Some of the site's most-followed users included high-profile controversial figures such as Richard B. Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and Alex Jones.

The site recognizes conservative websites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars as competitors, according to a March 2018 financial filing.

The site gained extensive public scrutiny following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October 2018, as Robert Gregory Bowers, the perpetrator of the massacre, posted a message indicating an immediate intent to harm before the shooting; Bowers had a history of antisemitic postings on Gab.

History

Gab was launched on August 15, 2016, in private beta, billing itself as a free speech alternative to social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. Co-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" and after reading a May 2016 report from that suggested Facebook’s trending topics might be biased against conservative topics.

Gab AI, Inc. was incorporated on September 6, 2016.

Torba said in November 2016 that the site's user base had expanded significantly following censorship controversies involving major social media companies

In mid-March 2017, Gab added Pro accounts and on May 8, 2017, Gab exited private beta testing and opened publicly. Also in May, Gab launched an Android app for the Google Play Store.

In August 2017, GabTV, a live-streaming service, was launched for GabPro members.

According to Gab's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, around 635,000 users were registered on Gab by September 10, 2018.

On September 12, 2018, Gab purchased the Gab.com domain name from Sedo for $220,000 at Flippa. Torba once operated Gab out of a WeWork coworking space in Philadelphia. 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 late-October 2018, a Gab spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gab was no longer based in Philadelphia.

In February 2019, Gab launched Dissenter, a browser extension and website that allows Gab users to make comments on content hosted on any website.

Censorship of Gab

In December 2016, Apple declined Gab's submission of its app to the iOS App Store, citing pornographic content as the reason. At the same time, Twitter also cut off Gab's access to the Twitter API without specifying a reason.

On August 17, 2017, Google removed Gab's app from the Google Play Store. 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."

On September 14, 2017, Gab filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for removing the app but dropped the suit on October 22, 2017, saying that they would instead push Congress to take action against "monopolized tech giants."

In September 2017, Gab faced pressure from its domain registrar AsiaRegistry to take down a post by The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin, giving Gab 48 hours to do so.

On August 9, 2018, Torba announced that Microsoft Azure, Gab's host, had threatened to suspend the site for "weeks/months" if they failed to remove two antisemitic posts made by Patrick Little, a U.S. senate candidate who had been ejected from the Republican Party for his antisemitism. According to Gab's Twitter account, Little deleted the posts, but this was contradicted by Torba who said Gab itself had deleted the posts which "unquestionably" did break "our user guidelines". Little said the complaint was a violation of an American's rights. On the same day, Alex Jones interviewed Torba on The Alex Jones Show during his coverage of his own permanent ban from YouTube. Little was suspended indefinitely from Gab in late-November 2018 for encouraging harassment of private individuals; Gab stressed that although Little's account had posted hateful content, it was not the cause of the ban.

In early-October 2018, Gab's Stripe account was suspended, citing adult content.

In late-October 2018, a Gab spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gab was no longer based in Philadelphia.

During the 018 Brazilian Presidential election many right-wing Brazilian political pages were banned from Facebook. In response, many administrators of these pages began promoting Gab as an alternative platform; subsequently, Brazilians became the second-largest demographic of Gab users. Jair Bolsonaro's party, the Social Liberal Party, has an official Gab account.

In December 2018, Gab sponsored Turning Point USA's "Student Action Summit" in Palm Beach, Florida. Days before the event, Turning Point USA removed Gab from the list of sponsors without explanation. Gab posted a press statement in protest.

Gab reported in a December 2018 filing that removal from PayPal and Stripe had caused a 90% drop in its subscription revenue. The company turned to cryptocurrency payment processing services instead. In January 2019, Coinbase and Square, Inc.'s Cash App closed the accounts held by Gab and Andrew Torba. On January 22, 2019, Gab announced that it had partnered with Second Amendment Processing (SAP), a Michigan-based payment processor. Gab removed SAP's credit card payment functionalities in March 2019, only accepting payment via cryptocurrency or check. Gab has not said why it removed the payment processor.

In April 2019, Gab tweeted that StartEngine had banned it from its crowdfunding platform in March and refused to return $150,000 in fees Gab had paid. In response, Gab announced its intention to sue StartEngine.

Revenue

Gab does not use advertising, describing itself as an "ad-free social network". The site began offering a premium subscription service for Gab named "GabPro" in mid-March 2017. The subscription allowed users to have private chats for up to 25 people; private chat with a maximum of two users was later added for all users, and the GabPro limit was increased to 50. Private messages are deleted after 24 hours. GabPro subscribers can also view a topic breakdown for other users, make lists of users to sort their home feed, livestream on GabTV (though this has since been removed), 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.

Gab has lost more than $350,000 from 2016 to 2018.

The company's Regulation A exempt offering of $10 million has been pending approval by the SEC since 2017. Heidi Beirich noted an unusual lack of communication records with the SEC regulators in Gab's financial filings, unlike those of similar companies. In a March 2019 SEC filing, Gab "abruptly" withdrew its request for stock sales, explaining that "[the company] has decided to seek other capital raising alternatives.".

Design

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. The interface displays messages in a Twitter-like vertical scroll timeline with an option to upvote each post. The site also aggregates popular posts and trending topic hashtags.Users of the site with a score higher than 250 can downvote posts, but must spend points to do so.

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 the NPC Wojak meme. The site offers its users an option to delete their entire posting history in a single click.

The site allows its users to read and write multimedia messages of up to 3,000 characters, called "gabs".

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 would be revoked. Downvotes were later removed entirely, with Gab's then-COO Utsav Sanduja explaining that they were being used to troll and to harass women, and that "there were a lot of social justice warriors and members of the far left coming into our site essentially trying to start a brouhaha."

A frog named "Gabby" was Gab's logo in 2016 Torba stated that the frog logo was inspired by Bible verses (Exodus 8:1–12 and Psalms 78:45) and various other traditional symbolic meanings. Sanduja said 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.