Social media platform Gab gains traffic, users following Capitol riot fallout
The social media platform Gab, a networking site that is popular among far-right users, saw a spike in website traffic and growth after the Capitol attacks and President Trump’s suspension from Twitter this week.
CEO of Gab Andrew Torba said that the platform saw a 40 percent increase in traffic during the riot that killed five people, and resulted in dozens of arrests, according to NPR.
Torba founded the company in 2016 and promoted it as a platform for free speech. Gab is frequented by far-right activists, according to Business Insider. The website is similar to Twitter and includes a main feed and an explore area.
Earlier Saturday, the platform tweeted that it had gained over 10,000 users in an hour and received 12 million visits in 12 hours, according to Insider.
The increase in engagement on Gab comes after videos emerged on the platform on Wednesday of rioters showing themselves breaking into the Capitol and having discussions with each other about finding Vice President Pence during the security breach, according to a report from The New York Times.
The Times reported that users involved in the violent attack on Capitol Hill communicated on Gab with each other about where to meet and which streets to take to avoid the police.
However, Torba, in a statement later on Wednesday responded to the report from the Times, stating that, “[W]e do not preemptively scan user content for criminal speech,” Torba said. “Before the Capitol was occupied by protestors we had no idea what would come from today’s protests in D.C.”
“The majority of our users use Gab on desktop devices, which obviously are not easy to bring and use at a protest,” Torba said.
Other websites that saw an increase in traffic since election night in November include Parler, TheDonald, and MeWe. These social platforms have minimal content moderation in comparison to apps such as Twitter and Facebook.
On Wednesday, a mob of President Trump’s supporters marched on the Capitol to halt Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.
The mob breached Capitol security, broke windows and vandalized lawmakers offices. The breach also caused lawmakers, media and staff to evacuate both the House and Senate floors and find shelter in undisclosed locations.
Supporters of the president mused on various platforms about the possibility of violence at the Capitol leading up to Wednesday’s attacks. Posts on websites such as Parler were rife with posts about storming the Capitol.
Following the riots Wednesday, Trump was suspended from Twitter permanently after determining that his posts pose “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
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