Inside Gab, The Social Network Attracting “Alt-Right” Users

By @TheMarkDalton

When Twitter made the move of banning a number of white nationalist “alt-right” users on the same day they said that they would be cracking down on hate speech it is no surprise that users would head elsewhere.

Feeling alienated by Twitter, users who were either banned or felt they were targeted have flocked to Gab, a relatively new social platform which reminds me of Ello.

So naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and if this could be a platform that may offer something different for users. I’m always on the look out for new social platforms, I think anyone who calls themselves a social media marketer or influencer should have their finger on the pulse at all times and so I signed up.

At the moment there is a waiting list to get in to Gab but I was impressed to see it move quickly and within about two days I had received my email invitation to the platform.

The site makes no bones about being a place for “free speech” and the homepage has a photo of the first amendment. It is worth noting at this point however that the first amendment has nothing to do with internet companies and how they choose to run their business.

With alt-right users feeling isolated it is no surprise that Gab has attracted attention and founder Andrew Torba is an avid Trump supporter though he says that he does not identify as “alt-right.” He was also recently kicked out of startup incubator Y Combinator for violating its harassment policy.

Y Combinator partner Kay Malanac says that Torba was removed for “speaking in a threatening, harassing way toward other YC founders.” Since I joined Gab I have made one post.

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That is it, and it is true as well. Gab is something new and something different and the first impressions were good. I liked the look of the site, it was clean and slick and it was laid out well. Compare it to Ello which trick rocking a retro look but was horrific on the eye, you can tell that thought has been put in to Gabs design.

Initially users seem welcoming and polite, reading introduction messages and it all seems to be friendly and users encourage each other to “speak freely”…until of course someone disagrees with their point of view.

I didn’t post more because as soon as I started exploring I realised the simple truth – this is Twitter for racists. Now that is a bold statement to make, let me clear it up a bit. Not everyone on Gab is a Trump loving racist pig but with so many alt-right flocking from Twitter you can see how it is becoming a big theme on the platform.

Hardly a surprise to find that Milo Yiannopoulos has now found a new place to troll – its Gab.

The site also has a trending section which is where a lot of my exploration was done initially and you can see just how much the site is pro Trump when you look at it. At the time of writing some of the following things trending were #PizzaGate, #Trump, #DrainTheSwamp, #PedoFiles, #MAGA.

At the start I didn’t notice much out of line which would be overly shocking. There was mild sexism or racism in the trending sections when I flicked through at the start but when you start exploring the hashtags which are not trending, that is when you see the ugly side of Gab and boy is it ugly.

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I spent a number of days having a look around the site, not posting but just exploring (I was completely put off posting at this stage) and you very quickly discover just how saturated it is with pro-Trump supporters.

Seriously, the site is like a Donald Trump supporter wonderland which I have no doubt they are probably happy with themselves but for me it was a real eye opener into the mindset of so many people who supported Trump and I have to say, it isn’t pleasant. It is basically a cesspit for users to go and spit hate and anger, what is worse is that it is pretty much openly encouraged because free speech and all that.

Gab has few restrictions: “no illegal pornography, a zero tolerance policy for promoting terrorism and violence and users are not allowed to post other’s confidential information without their consent.”

After looking around for a couple of days I can safely say that Twitter’s decision to ban so many alt-right accounts will probably work out in their favour because they are simply heading elsewhere. It gives Twitter a chance to possibly clear up their site of hate speech and harassment somewhat and allow another site to deal with it.

Twitter once tried to brand themselves as the free speech wing of the free speech party but online that is not necessarily a good thing and Gab is a perfect example of why. Behind the apparent anonymity of a keyboard some people feel they can say whatever they dam well please and be devoid of any form of respect. That is not what free speech is all about. Leave them to it I say, Gab is one social platform that I am happy to turn my back on.