The social media site Gab, infamous for being a haven for white nationalists and other far-right figures, has raised over $5 million from investors and is now hoping to expand its operation.
The company announced that it had raised $5 million last week from more than 1,000 investors, and has a series of plans for the upcoming year. According to VentureBeat these include a marketing campaign on sites like Breitbart and DrudgeReport, a redesigned site and content creators who’ve been ‘red-pilled’. Gab’s founder, Andrew Torba, also wants to “Buy ads in San Francisco just to troll Big Tech.”
Gab describes itself as a social network “grounded in the freedom of expression, information and speech”, and aims to offer an alternative to mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter which have been accused of censoring free speech and having too much market domination in Silicon Valley.
But while Gab claims to be simply providing a free speech-friendly platform, the reality is that it has come to exist as a safe space for far-right figures who have been banned from other platforms. The site first came to prominence after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which prompted many tech companies to crack down on accounts or websites promoting hatred online. But in contrast, Gab saw a surge in donations which saw it raise $1 million – $500,000 of it in the five days after Charlottesville.
Torba is also an outspoken Trump supporter, who was previously kicked out of an influential Silicon Valley startup accelerator for violating its harassment policy. Over the weekend Torba posted a screenshot of Trump’s tweet on #MeToo and added that it was a “modern day witch hunt”. He also re-posted a Google Hangout livestream featuring prominent far-right troll Baked Alaska, “content creator” Sargon of Akkad, as well as Andrew Anglin, an avowed neo-Nazi and founder of the white supremacist website the Daily Stormer. Anglin is currently in hiding to prevent being served with notices over the several lawsuits he is currently embroiled in. Despite this, he still posts regularly on Gab.
But Gab’s white supremacist user-base didn’t stop Tucker Carlson from having Torba on his show in September to protest the app being removed from the GooglePlay store. Google claimed that they removed the app because it served as a vehicle, “for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people”, but Torba claimed that it was a conspiracy by Silicon Valley “robber barons” and corrupt officials to repress his free speech.
Tech companies and the far-right have played a continued cat-and-mouse game since the Unite the Right rally last August. While the major web hosting services and social media networks have cracked down on extremist content, the far-right continues to make its own platforms, like Hatreon and GoyFundMe, which have allowed it to continue to fund and propagate hate.