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Weekend Read: It’s not going well for Gab.

It’s not going well for Gab.

We reported at the end of January that the social media platform adopted by the racist “alt-right” is embroiled in chaos.

This is the same site where white supremacist Robert Bowers posted antisemitic conspiracy theories before he was charged with murdering 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October — and where another pair of users were accused the very next month of plotting their own attack.

Payment processors and web-hosting companies that work with Gab cut ties with the platform. It was a huge blow.

Gab reported “a 90% decline in payments for our subscription services,” according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings it submitted in December. Since its launch in August 2016, the site has lost more than $350,000.

But Gab was still limping along until our Hatewatch investigation went public last month.

We found that Gab’s founder, Andrew Torba, might be in trouble with the SEC; that Gab’s crowdfunding page is heavily promoting a feature it hasn’t actually had since the summer of 2018; and that the platform appears to be wildly inflating its user count.

To reach Gab’s reported number of 835,000 “persons,” or users, for example, it would have had to have gained thousands of new users every day in November and December. That’s unlikely.

“We reached out for an analysis of the number of active users of Gab — accounts who actually logged in and posted content to the site over a span of a week in January — and received a number that was below 20,000 unique users,” Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich told The Daily Beast. “That would be a massive difference in community size from what the company is advertising to the public and government regulators.”

In the days following our report, Gab locked, then unlocked its Twitter account. It announced it would no longer be supporting an Android app (its only option after Apple rejected the app outright). It went offline. It came back online only to lock down its member registration; the site is now either invite-only, or is canceling services entirely, depending on who’s asking. 

Gab advertises itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter or Facebook, but it would be more accurate to call it what it is: a haven for dangerous white supremacists. Racist memes, “white genocide” conspiracy theories, and conversations about violence typify the kind of hate speech that litters the platform.

We’re proud of our role in Gab’s decline. We’re continuing to monitor the platform — and other sites like it — as well as the role that the internet at large is playing in the radicalization of people like Robert Bowers, Dylann Roof and other extremists.

We’re working hard to expose hate, and we’re proud to have you with us in this fight.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

SPLC's Weekend Reads are a weekly summary of the most important reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequity, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive Weekend Reads every Saturday morning.