A crowdfunding campaign for Gab, a Twitter-like social network that touts its commitment to freedom of speech, surpassed $1 million yesterday.
The company claims it is politically neutral and committed to free speech, but its service is particularly popular among the far right. Interest in the service has surged in parallel with efforts by social networks like Twitter and Facebook to crack down on hate speech and harassment, especially from far-right hate groups.
Those efforts, and Gab’s fundraising, have ramped up further after last weekend’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. According to tech news site VentureBeat, $500,000 of Gab’s new funding, raised through the platform Start Engine, came in the days following events in Charlottesville.
As Wired noted last year, Gab’s frog logo is reminiscent of Pepe, the unwilling avatar of far-right trolls, and Gab CEO Andrew Torba was removed from a Y Combinator alumni community in 2016 for harassing language directed at immigrants. Gab’s crowdfunding pitch argues that “the web is being shaped and influenced by a handful of companies with special interests pushing a very specific agenda.”
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The company celebrated its fundraising milestone in appropriately unrestrained terms on Twitter.
Gab has also added 25,000 users in the last 30 days, bringing its total number of registered users to 225,000, according to news site Mashable. That compares to 328 million monthly active users on Twitter.
Gab’s users include many figures of the so-called alt-right, such as Milo Yiannopolous, a former Breitbart writer who was banned from Twitter in 2016 for inciting harassment there. Another prominent Gab user is Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, which was effectively shut down this week when web companies suspended its domain registration. Anglin is now using Gab to post Daily Stormer articles.
Gab, though, has already run afoul of the kind of gatekeeping it aims to weaken. Apple and now Google have both blocked the services’ mobile app from their respective app stores.