Gab was launched back in 2016 as a rival to Twitter partly in response to Twitter’s stance on free speech which has been questioned in the past few years.
Twitter has previously blocked accounts for posting messages that it deems inappropriate, such as neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic tweets that the majority of people would find offensive. However, while it’s widely agreed that sentiment behind these messages is wrong, there is an anti-censorship argument that suggests the wider public shouldn’t be shielded from these opinions.
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This is a sentiment that Gab has embodied as it describes itself as a “defender of free speech and expression”, although it has said very clearly that it has a “zero tolerance” stance on terrorism and violence. This has not deterred website domain provider GoDaddy from pulling their support for the service, providing only 24 hours to find an alternative provider or PayPal from banning the company’s use of its money-transfer service.
Gab was quick to fire back in a post on Medium that pointed out the alleged attacker had several social media accounts on several different platforms, and also brought up numerous supposed instances of inflammatory content that has been seen on both Facebook and Twitter and gone unaddressed.
Gab’s founders saw a gap in the market when Twitter’s stance on free speech was called into question on several occasions of the past few years. One such example suggests Twitter’s algorithm has been used against free speech in the past, as it’s possible for an account to be closed without checks or investigation if the number of reports against a single account reaches a certain number. One of the most high profile examples of this was covered by Business Insider surrounding an attack of Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel.
A statement on Gab’s website written by CEO Andrew Torba which can be seen below provides a statement of intent for the company’s next steps.