(Editor’s note: This is the third and final part in a series of three articles that examines how various Internet platforms like Twitter are working to silence your conservative voice.)
In 2006, Jack Dorsey was working at the podcasting company Odeo when he came up with an idea for a messaging service. He pitched the idea to Odeo’s co-founders, asking for more time to develop it, and they agreed it was worth his time. Six years later, lifewire.com reported there were over 200 million active monthly users; Twitter had become a natural ecosystem.
Part of Twitter’s draw is that it allows real-time interaction with those whom you would never be able to talk to any other way. Users can directly crush on their favorite celebrities, complain to their elected officials, or even find people across the globe with similar interests based on hashtags, little keywords that help categorize posts and make them easier to find. Twitter consumers can talk to anyone else with an account, and this can be done privately or in front of the whole world – as long as they use less than one hundred forty characters.
Twitter has also become a place where people can find real-time news updates from ‘boots on the ground,’ as many people tweet firsthand during catastrophic weather events, massive political protests, or other significant happenings. It has become yet another way to make the media obsolete; why bother with a reporter when you can talk to the guy in the middle of the protest about what he’s experiencing? Why rely on news reports to tell you what’s important to know right this second when you can see what’s trending and know what millions of people are tuning into immediately?
And — it would — if Twitter’s leadership wasn’t so busy censoring people’s perspectives and ideas so that they never see the light of day.
You see, Twitter isn’t interested in a free exchange of ideas, and they don’t care about ensuring that all users have a voice, or that things trend organically based on what people are currently discussing. They care about ensuring that the Leftist narrative gets full display – and they shove anything else to the side.
Think I’m making this up? Read on.
It’s important to note up front that Twitter is a private company; much like Facebook, it can feature, ban, or delete whatever it wants to, and the same misunderstanding of the First Amendment rampant on Facebook is also rampant on Twitter.
The problem with Twitter is not that it’s choosing to ban or delete individual tweets, or users; it is expressly who and what they are banning and deleting, and what that pattern says about their mission.
Twitter says it wants its ecosystem to be a safe space for all of its users, free of harassment and attacks. To ‘get serious’ about that, it created a Trust & Safety Council. The Council, according to its website, ensures that “you feel safe and confident enough to express yourself freely and connect with the world around you.” Providing “input on our safety products, policies, and programs,” the Council is made up of a variety of groups and users from across the globe. Interestingly enough, none of them appear to be conservative. There are, however, representatives from radical feminists, Islamic groups, pro-illegal immigration, gay advocacy and other Leftist enclaves.
The logical progression of this becomes quickly apparent. In February 2016, Twitter banned Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative blogger. The company claimed they suspended McCain for “participating in targeted abuse.” This move came soon after feminist Anita Sarkeesian joined the Council. Coincidence? McCain and Sarkeesian had often disagreed publicly, leading to a conclusion by many that the only “targeted” actions were against McCain himself. Twitter went one step further and suppressed the hashtag #FreeStacy to ensure that the whole nasty episode quietly disappeared.
Other conservatives followed McCain into the Twitter vortex. The company banned Milo Yiannopolous after publicly scrapping with actress and comedienne Leslie Jones; even though Jones engaged in profanity and name-calling, Milo was the one removed from Twitter after some of his followers posted personal attacks against Jones. Many others found themselves on the nasty end of Twitter’s sudden creativity; something called shadow banning.
A particularly insidious move, shadow banning is when Twitter decides to ensure that a user’s tweets should not appear to the rest of the Twitter universe. When the user is logged in, their tweets show up fine. There is no indication to the user that anything is wrong. Their tweets, however, do not appear in other users’ timelines or the greater Twitter-sphere; they are only visible to the author. (You can check if Twitter has shadow banned you here.)
Outgoing links to individual websites are also prohibited; prominent self-described alt-right member Vox Day saw his popular blog Vox Popoli declared “unsafe” by Twitter, which locked the accounts of users who linked to Day’s site. The author is also the mastermind behind Infogalactic.com, a censorship-free Wikipedia alternative. Infogalactic maintains a list of people removed from Twitter, shadow banned, or otherwise had their speech silenced.
Matt Forney, another conservative Twitter user, pointed out that the company also demanded government-issued identification to allow the affected users back into their accounts – and in some cases, refused to send an unlock code.
All of these ham-handed tactics have resulted in an exodus of conservatives, libertarians, and others from the Twitter platform. Instead, many have chosen Gab.ai, a project that started small but is growing at an exponential rate, based on a very simple motto:
Speak freely. Imagine that!
Gab operates on a principle of complete and utter freedom on its platform; in fact, founder Andrew Torba designed Gab specifically because of reports on Gizmodo and other outlets that Facebook employees suppress conservative articles. Aside from illegal pornography or open threats of harm, Gab is a free-for-all of ideas, perspectives, and concepts. Users have three hundred characters to express themselves – more than double what Twitter offers – and the site is alive with images and interaction at all hours of the day and night. Readers can vote posts up or down and categorize their ‘gabs,’ making it seem as though Gab is a hybrid of the best traits of Twitter and Reddit, with none of the social justice warrior bullying or totalitarian censorship. All in all, Gab is a fantastic environment, filled with the kind of positivity seen in freedom-based ventures.
Even though Gab is less than a year old, it has already made a mark in the social media landscape, due in part because of its work on the Wikileaks information released before the election. While Twitter was furiously banning and blocking people, users on Gab were networking, picking apart the raw emails, and working together in 24-7 shifts to find the truth and get it out to the public, along with sites like 4chan, voat, and Reddit. While Reddit later deleted entire sections of its community to hide some of what its users uncovered, Gab worked that much harder to keep the truth flowing.
Gab newbies may notice on their first visit that there seems to be an overabundance of conservatives, alt-right, minarchists, and even anarcho-capitalists on the site; progressives, however, not so much. In an exclusive interview Utsav Sanduja, Gab spokesman, told Liberty Nation why that is:
With respect to our conservative user base, when a group of people are being systematically dehumanized and labeled as the alphabet soup of phobias, they will look for a place that will allow them to speak freely without censorship and devoid of Social Justice bullying…Gab is for everyone, regardless of one’s ideological predisposition.
Sanduja says contrary to what some media outlets have said – that Gab is a haven for white supremacists and other hate speech – Gab is incredibly diverse. Among the Gab community members are a broad range of global thoughts, belief systems, and perspectives, and Sanduja says they are all welcome.
Whether it is Catholic Stoics from Austria, Hindu philosophers from India or up-and-coming independent rap artists with socially liberal viewpoints in Canada, here on Gab we openly welcome and embrace the diversity that is at the heart of our ecosystem.
With all of this freedom, some might ask how Gab does not descend into chaos, and the answer is simple: self-censorship. Users can decide for themselves what they do not want to see and mute those terms. Over time, a user’s timeline can be as diverse or as narrow as they wish – the point is that the user always has the choice.
Sanduja says Gab “absolutely stands by #AltTech,” the name given to the wide variety of programs, sites and apps that offer an alternative to the bias, targeting, and lack of privacy from companies like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Reddit.
The user migration and the outpouring of support to #AltTech should tell the world something. Freedom, privacy, a voice – these are things that should be the cornerstone of all social media and internet apps. Unfortunately, the big companies have chosen to double down on their censorship and bias against conservative and libertarian thought. When asked why they’re not getting the hint, Sanduja’s answer is short and sweet:
“It’s difficult to get Cultural-Marxists to think – they’re ideological doctrinaires.”