With many extremist groups and individuals being removed from the world wide web and various social media platforms like Twitter, alternatives are appearing in the market that generate natural appeal. The alt-right, with a tendency for hate speech with a neo-Nazi/white-supremacist, tone, has been one of the groups targeted by efforts to remove hatred from the web, using either direct or indirect calls to action. The Daily Stormer, an alt-right magazine pushing anti-Semite and racist rhetoric, has been consistently removed from any domain they choose to register, and any social media account they create. As a result, they’ve taken to the dark web and have sought out new social media options. Gab is one of those options.
Gab is an ad-free social network designed to cultivate free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online. Its main tenet is that it will not remove your account no matter what you choose to post online- including any form of hate speech or extremist rhetoric. While it’s unlikely that the creators intended to attract the interests of neo-Nazis, Gab was created primarily in response to the increasing censorship of content on Twitter. As a result, individuals like Andrew Anglin, the creator of The Daily Stormer, have gained quite a large following.
Gab is also in their early stages of funding. Unlike other social media platforms, Gab has created an option for users to become investors in the business. The minimum investment is 200 USD with a price of 1.10 USD per share. Many of the alt-right members who use Gab are also investors. This status is indicated on members’ profile as ‘pro’ with an investor badge. So far, Gab has managed to raise 1.06 million USD with over 1,600 investors contributing- shattering their initial goal of 10,000 USD when they first started their campaign.
Because of the nature of Gab’s success, more and more people are signing up to see what it’s all about. Andrew Anglin and his pal Robert Ray (Azzmador), the creator of The Krypto Report, have gained a total of 5000 followers since they started using the platform. That may not seem like a lot, but since I began tracking the follower account of Anglin a few days ago, he has gained an additional 1000 followers. Anglin has also received quite a bit of engagement. Each one of his posts garners at least 50 likes, and he has received approximately 2800 USD in Bitcoin since opening the account.
After bouncing from a .com domain, to the dark web, to a .ru domain, back to the dark web, to a .lol domain, Anglin has been forced to retreat back to the dark web yet again. His recent altercation with Namecheap, a domain name and hosting provider, resulted in another suspension. The reason? A violation of their terms indicating that hate speech that incites violence is forbidden. This is what Anglin said:
“It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in mathematics to understand that White men + pride + organization = Jews being stuffed into ovens.”
On Gab, he claimed that the quote was satire “mocking the assertion of the Jews that any form of white identity leads to a Holocaust.” He said that Namecheap took the quote out of context.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem like satire to me. To me, it reads like his cause, the alt-right, if successful will lead to, in their eyes, another Holocaust. In what way can you turn that around into satire? As a private company, Namecheap has every right to refuse service from an individual if they deem that individual has violated their terms of service. It’s not up to Anglin to make that determination.
Despite the lack of direct affiliation with Gab and the alt-right, other companies are starting to take notice of the activity on Gab and the affiliation of its users. Calling it a right-wing version of Twitter, Google banned the Gab app from the Google Play Store. When asked for a reason, Google gave a similar response. “After review, Gab, ai.gab.android, has been suspended and removed from Google Play as a policy strike because it violates the hate speech policy.” While they are right, there is hate speech on Gab, not all speech on Gab is hate speech. It seems that many of these tech companies are starting to align themselves with one another. With divisive rhetoric coming from the left and the right, private organizations aren’t helping by also taking sides. Neo-Nazi and white supremacist rhetoric has no business existing in the 21st century. However, the systematic shutdown of free speech on all major platforms across the web is also a cause for alarm. The way it stands now, the extreme end of the alt-right will be pushed further and further underground. This has the potential to be even more dangerous than if they were out in the open. What’s that saying… the devil you know?