I’ve been on the Gab.ai micro blogging platform on and off since November 2016. I realised towards the middle of last year that I was going to be purged from Twitter at some point as the platform was shifting distinctly Left in the way it was moderated, I had also upset some quite well connected Muslim activists who wanted me off of Twitter very badly. Because I could see impending problems with Twitter, Facebook and other legacy social media platforms, I was interested in an alternative to what was on offer by these big platforms. Out of all of them I have found that Gab is for me by far the best in terms of interface and experience.
I noticed that Gab had come along and people were talking about it a lot so I wanted to try it. I had looked at other micro blogging platforms, such as Twister and had given it a try but for some reason, probably an ‘appliance operator’ issue at my end, I could not get on with it. Although Twister is incredibly secure, start up took ages on my system, mostly because it is blockchain based and setting this up was time consuming. Because of my slightly frustrating experience with Twister I decided to take a look at Gab.
I signed up with Gab when there wasn’t that many people on there who I wanted to follow or talk to but I kept popping back in to have a look round. Eventually my Twitter account became the subject of one of Twitter’s regular purges of conservatives and those with Islamo-sceptic views and I was removed from the platform. From then on I used Gab, and to a much lesser extent Minds (to be the subject of another article similar to this) almost exclusively.
First of all the Gab interface. It started off much more ‘bare bones’ than some other social media platforms, but as time has gone on the Gab site has got more functionality and bells and whistles added to it. However Gab is not ‘bloatware’ and the sign up and getting started process was a piece of cake. The Gab team have added a user guide and tuition resources to help new users understand and get the best out of Gab. The interface is clean and relatively easy for me to read, but someone with a visual disability may find the light text on a light background difficult to decipher. I definitely think the visual experience on Gab has improved since the early days and the site is very intuitive to use. Twitter users or rather Twitter refugees will find Gab not too steep a learning curve.
As to the experience I’ve had on Gab then the only word I can use to describe it is amazing. Unlike other similar social media platforms such as Twitter, Gab is a 100% free speech environment and it’s a breath of fresh air to be able to say what I want, how I want and engage in debate with others without having to worry that my account will be locked because someone was ‘offended’. Also, and this is especially important for Britons using Gab, unlike Twitter there are no mobs of lefties/soft jihadists etc who have leverage with the sites moderators. Neither is there the risk that Gab staff, unlike the staff at Twitter are alleged to have done, passing details of ‘speech offenders’ to the British police. I know of several individuals, and there are probably many more, who have had the ‘5 AM knock’ from the police because of something that they’ve said on Twitter that someone has taken offence to. I can’t see the Gab staff passing people’s details to the police merely because someone was ‘offended’.
One of the things that users or former users of more heavily curated platforms such as Twitter will have to get used to on Gab is that it is a free speech environment. There’s all sorts on there but it is by no means a ‘far right’ site which Gab has been smeared as being by some in the media. Being a free speech site Gab, has within its digital walls, a wide variety of opinions, some that I agree with and some that I don’t. There are good ideas and bad ideas and yes, some appalling ideas being shared and expressed on Gab, but then that’s the beauty of it, there’s every opinion under the sun there and because of that the place tastes of freedom.
Of course being a free speech site there is the occasional wanker and individuals with their own way out political hobby horse and probably a flat earther on there if I looked hard enough, but the vast majority of people I’ve encountered are decent individuals. I’ve had plenty of engagement with interesting people some of whom are Twitter refugees who have been forced off by Twitter, but also many others who are not or who have walked away from that platform in disgust at the increasing Leftist bias.
On the subject of Lefties, yes there are some on there. Some are the sort of screamers of ‘snarl’ words that we see on Twitter, but there are others who are much more sensible, thoughtful and amenable to debate. I’ve found some of the better leftists and progressives on Gab less doctrinaire than the leftists elsewhere but this may be because the more sorted people on the Left respect free speech as much as many conservative minded people do. With regards to Right opinion, there is much more than you will find on Twitter and the majority of this is US/UK based with a smattering of conservatives from elsewhere as far as I can make out.
As I said earlier this is not a ‘far right’ platform and the vast majority of conservatives on there seem to be mainstream patriots and supporters of economic freedom and consumer choice. Being a free speech platform there are, of course, the occasional irritants such as the fraggles with their weird ‘Rothschild’ and ‘race realism’ obsessions and the tin foil hatters on there as well. But, the presence of these individuals whose positions I vehemently disagree with, is an infinitesimally small price to pay for my right to speak freely. If I have the right to speak, then so do others who hold views that I may find wrong, foolish of even offensive. In any event, some of the real way out types (in my opinion) do not compromise my experience of Gab because I can mute the worst of them, or even discuss their opinions with them if I so choose.
I would certainly recommend anyone interested in social media and in particular those interested in discussing politics in a micro blogging environment to get on Gab and give it a go. I would especially recommend Gab to those who reside in nations such as Britain where there is effectively no free speech left and where people are getting arrested left right and centre merely because they’ve uttered an opinion that has ‘offended’ someone. On Gab you can express your point of view, freely and with very few constraints apart from a few obvious ones such as not threatening violence to people, which is a reasonable rule. Gab is not an echo chamber for the Right or the Left, it is a digital ‘Speakers Corner’ and like this and other free speech environments, if you put an opinion out there you may well get a mixture of approval and disapproval, but that’s normal for a free society made up of free people.
I’m absolutely delighted with my experience on Gab and the freedom to express myself that it gives myself and others. Every time I use Gab, from the increasingly ‘unfree’ state that I reside in, I think to myself ‘So this is what it must be like to live in a nation that has a First Amendment’ Therefore I feel very grateful to Gab’s creators including CEO Mr Andrew Torba and the rest of the Gab team for building and maintaining such a useful and necessary resource as Gab has become.