Gab, the social network that has welcomed Qanon and extremist figures, explained

The website’s usually far-right political dialogue can vary from memes to baseless conspiracy theories (one typical instance reads, “What if it can be proven the storming of the Capitol was a Soros-funded operation of Antifa infiltrators who coordinated with corrupt police and politicians?”) to taunts (akin to one from a consumer named Catturd reading, “I bet Nancy Pelosi’s breath smells like vodka, moth balls, and satan”).

Though the platform has existed as an alternative choice to mainstream social media websites since 2016, it has reported an important enhance in customers throughout the previous few days. (The Washington Post has reached out to analytics corporations to see if it might verify the declare.) This reported rise comes as varied social media websites, together with Twitter and Facebook, have suspended the president and different distinguished conservatives following pro-Trump rioters’ invasion of the Capitol on Wednesday.

Gab is the brainchild of Andrew Torba, a Scranton, Pa., native who labored in Silicon Valley however reportedly discovered it too liberal. He created Gab after studying a Gizmodo report that Facebook’s trending subjects might be biased towards conservatives, a report Facebook disputes.

“I didn’t set out to build a ‘conservative social network’ by any means. But I felt that it was time for a conservative leader to step up and to provide a forum where anybody can come and speak freely without fear of censorship,” Torba told The Post in 2016. “Every major communication outlet, every major social network, is run, owned, controlled and operated by progressive leaders, progressive workers in Silicon Valley.”

When a Post reporter reached out to Torba for touch upon new developments on Gab over the weekend, he responded with an insult and declined to remark.

The platform made headlines in October 2018 after a gunman opened fire in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and killed 11 worshipers. Robert Bowers, who’s accused of the crime, spent years posting anti-Semitic rhetoric on Gab. His last submit earlier than the capturing learn, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

After the capturing, Gab stated in an announcement that it took down Bowers’s account and contacted the FBI. Nonetheless, PayPal banned the network from its platform, and GoDaddy stopped internet hosting the website.

Gab went darkish for barely greater than per week, throughout which it migrated to the Epik, a site registrar and internet hosting firm that hosts the neo-Nazi message board the Daily Stormer and the imageboard 8chan, the place QAnon originated.

Gab appears to be making the most of the present second. On Monday, Ron Paul (R-Texas) tweeted that Facebook blocked the former congressman from managing his web page “with no rationalization apart from ‘repeatedly going against our community standards.’ ” Within 40 minutes, Gab responded with “,” an apparent invitation to join the site.

Since its inception, Gab has welcomed deplatformed social media users, generally attracting those on the far right. When Twitter suspended a number of alt-right accounts just after the 2016 election — including white nationalist Richard Spencer’s — Gab welcomed them with open arms.

In early October, when Facebook purged a lot of accounts related to QAnon, Torba revealed a weblog submit welcoming them to the website. “Gab is happy to announce that we will be welcoming all QAnon accounts across our social network, news, and encrypted chat platforms,” Torba wrote. He added, “Members of the QAnon community have been active on Gab for several years. We have never seen any calls for violence, threats, or any other illegal activity from this group of people.”

Torba appears to count on its sudden spike in reputation to return with some backlash from the media. In one among Gab’s posts from the previous 24 hours, he wrote, “In the coming weeks the press will dig up old tweets and Gab posts of mine. So I’ll just say this in advance: I apologize for absolutely nothing and regret none of it. I own it all and this is the right response when these demons do digging. Who I was years ago made me who I am today. I’ve learned, loved, and grown. I won’t apologize for that.”

The submit was met with digital cheers. One of the prime feedback included a meme displaying Trump’s head photoshopped on a picture of Jeffrey Dean Morgan from the zombie drama “The Walking Dead.” He’s holding a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat. At the backside of the picture are the phrases, “We are all Donald!”

Tony Romm contributed to this report.

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