As high-tech firms have begun taking steps to weed out some of the most offensive right-wing hate groups, alternative social network Gab has seen a surge in donations to its crowdfunding campaign as it plays up its anti-Silicon Valley crusade.
Today, Gab passed $1 million raised. That includes almost $500,000 in just the last five days. And Gab isn’t being coy about its feeling towards Silicon Valley giants.
1 million dollars raised by THE PEOPLE to make speech free again and say FUCK YOU Silicon Valley elitist trash. Thank you all!!!!!!!!
— Gab (@getongab) August 17, 2017
The founders of the site insist that it’s a neutral, free-speech platform that is trying to build an advertising-free business. In its fundraising material, it highlights the fact that 50 percent of the top social networking apps are owned by Facebook, and that a handful of Silicon Valley companies wield enormous control over content on the internet.
It also stresses that with the rise of ad blockers, advertising-driven business models are problematic.
While the site claims to be politically neutral, it was started by Andrew Torba, an outspoken Trump supporter who was kicked off the Y Combinator alumni network last year for “speaking in a threatening, harassing way toward other YC founders.”
Torba claimed it was politically motivated, and had already launched Gab.ai as an alternative social network. This summer, the company began a crowdfunding campaign on Startengine, which allows startups to register and sell shares in their companies. Gab’s logo, a smiling frog, seems to reference the Pepe the Frog image that is a favorite meme of some right-wing hate groups.
Gab’s crowdfunding campaign seems to have benefited greatly from a one-two punch of events that have energized right-wing groups.
The first was Google’s firing of James Damore, the engineer who wrote the controversial diversity memo. The second was the violence surrounding the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville last weekend that resulted in the death of one counterprotester. The ensuing controversy over President Trump’s remarks has also continued to bring attention to the site.
Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, has turned to Gab over the past couple of days as a platform of last report. Stormer appears to be offline again after several attempts to find a new registrar failed following its expulsion from GoDaddy. After moving to a Russian domain name, the site was taken down by at the request of a Russian agency which said that as a neo-Nazi site, Stormer violated laws against extremism.
So for now, Anglin said he would post articles on Gab as screen shots until he can find another solution:
Meanwhile, Torba took to Periscope today to celebrate the fundraising milestone, and said Gab will soon launch its own cryptocurrency to hold an Initial Coin Offering: