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“Gab seeks to free humanity from the chains of Silicon Valley’s data silo, psychological manipulation, censorship, and ideological echo chambers,” its fundraising page states. Since 2016, Gab CEO Andrew Torka has pushed the narrative that other social media platforms like Twitter are targeting conservative voices. Since then, Gab has gained a reputation as a platform for far-right voices like Richard Spencer and Bowers, although it paints itself as politically neutral in its fundraising pitch.
“We refuse to be defined by the dishonest media, by sophist political activists, or anyone else who thinks they can paint Gab as something other than a neutral platform for the free exchange and flow of ideas,” the pitch continues.
While Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all taken steps to remove hate speech and ban users like Alex Jones who traffic in hateful rhetoric, Gab, creates a place for those kinds of speech to flourish, sometimes with deadly consequences.
The fundraising page appeals to the free-market sensibilities of investors by painting tech companies as oligarchic powers that stifle free speech.
“We soon learned that gatekeepers could prevent anyone from building and distributing an application, stifling innovation and market opportunity, says the fundraising page.
“After realizing this empirically when Gab was rejected from Apple’s App Store for ‘objectionable content,’ removed from Google’s Play Store for ‘hate speech,’ forced off our hosting provider Microsoft Azure, and threatened by our domain registrar for the same reasons: we knew that we had become a threat to the establishment social networks and that we had to keep building.”
But arguably, tech companies who kicked right-wing voices, including Gab, off their platforms, were responding to outcry from the market. And as private companies, they have the right to remove voices that violate their guidelines.
So far, Gab has raised $1,057,108.87 from 1,267 investors, nearing its $1.07 million goal for this round of funding. While many of the investors expressed excitement at the opportunity to contribute to Gab, some complained about the lack of transparency from leadership.
“The real question. Why does the Team not respond to Investors questions,” asked a potential investor called David Byrd.
“Perhaps since my question was ignored I should ignore this opportunity,” said another potential investor, Diane Sedmak.
“No matter how hard I try I cannot get through to Gab to invest, I cannot even send an email to explain the situation,” said Martha Gillespie.
In the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, Gab has struggled with hosting. After Paypal severed its ties with the company, Stripe, the payment processing company, and Joyent, a cloud hosting site, followed suit. Gab was down following Joyent’s announcement on Saturday, but returned on Sunday morning. However, Joyent will permanently pull its hosting at 9:00AM on Monday, according to The Verge.
Gab is also declining to talk to television media, except for Tucker Carlson or Sharyl Attkisson, according to its Twitter account. Neither Gab nor StartEngine responded to requests for comment by press time.
As companies continue to pull their support, it’s unclear how Gab will continue to operate and give its investors a return.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.