Monday, June 11, 2018

Tired of Twitter censorship? Gab claims to offer an alternative


By Jim Bray
TechnoFile.com

In our increasingly divided and partisan society, it appears that some forces are stepping up their efforts to silence others, shutting down debate rather than taking part in it. It's a mark of folks who know they have no winning argument, so therefore have to project, obfuscate and name call rather than actually address issues.

Snowflakes!

This is nothing new, but in the Trump era – in which the losing side of the 2016 presidential election still thinks of itself as the side of goodness despite increasing evidence to the contrary – U.S. President Trump's efforts to drain the deep state swamp seem to be causing new and ever more ominous fits on that side of the ideological ledger. It's quite entertaining to watch!

I don't do Twitter much (generally, I post only to announce when I have new rants on my website), but it has come to my attention that Twitter (and others) is blocking and/or banning certain posters whose ideology may not comport with the looniness that dominates mainstream media and leftists (but I repeat myself). If true, then that mocks the principles of free speech and open discussion that is a great deal of the internet's promise and appeal, though it's also consistent with the "this business refuses the right to refuse service…" canon the left loves until someone refuses to bake a cake.

What's a person to do if he/she/it believes in freedom of expression regardless of whose expression it is?

Well, I've discovered a competitor to Twitter that promises to address the issue. It's called Gab (www.gab.ai), and while it doesn't look like it has nearly the reach that Twitter does, you have to start somewhere.

Gab's philosophy is spelled out in the site's Community Guidelines, which among many other things says "Gab's mission is to put people and free speech first. We believe that the only valid form of censorship is an individual's own choice to opt-out. Gab empowers users to filter and remove unwanted followers, words, phrases, and topics they do not want to see in their feeds."

That doesn't mean it's a "virtual wild west" out there, however. "We do take steps to protect ourselves and our users from illegal activity, spam, and abuse," the guideline continues. "By signing up for Gab, all users agree to adhere to the policies (as outlined). Failure to comply will result in sanctions as explained in our How We Enforce Our Guidelines section." The guidelines go on to mention pornography (legal and illegal), copyright, private information and other such topics as reasons for the site's operators to virtually slap your pee-pee.

"Gab's policy is to follow all applicable laws in The United States of America, the Constitution and the Supreme Court's rulings on the First Amendment. We use the Court's rulings, precedents and judgments as our guiding principles for protecting and empowering free speech and expression. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or illegal activities," the site continues.

Well, there goes all the fun!

I believe the site operators must be Trump supporters, or at least have an urge to troll the left-wing competition like the president does, because its logo and "favicon" (the little picture that appears on your browser tab or window) just happens to be Pepe the frog, the little green critter that seems to show up on many other Trump-friendly sites, images, etc.. Covfefe!

And according to the Gabsters, they aren't just in it to make huge profits off of the backs of the people (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that in a free market). They eschew ads, depending instead on the kindness of strangers. "Gab can only be ad-free through your contributions. Your generosity helps us fight for a free and open internet, worldwide," their website claims.

There's also an upgraded Gab service, called GabPro. "GabPro helps us keep Gab ad-free and operational for hundreds of thousands of people around the world," they say. "With an optional upgrade to GabPro you'll unlock additional features and tools to enhance your Gab experience and help make Gab possible for everyone."

In other words, pony up some lucre and unlock more features while helping finance the service to keep it going. And, helpfully, they have a link to a PayPal page where you can ante up. A happy coincidence, I'm sure.

GabPro features listed on the website include the ability to create groups and/or lists, bookmark and save posts and even make some money of your own – as it says, "Get rewarded for your content with tips and paid subscriptions."

The site is organized into groups and topics, via menus on the left side of the page. Thursday, June 7th had topics such as D-Day, News and Politics and (ugh) Stanley Cup Playoffs – and lots more.

Gab doesn't seem nearly as busy as Twitter does, from my limited visiting of both social media sites, but this could be because fewer people have undoubtedly heard of Gab, whereas Twitter is the evil elephant in the room.

So, if you're looking for an alternative to Twitter, you may want to check out Gab.

There are also alternatives to Facebook out there, a surprising number of them. I don't have room to go into them all here, but a website company called 1and1.com has a list of alternative sites that I'd never heard of (besides the usual Reddit, Instagram and the like), including Diaspora, Ello, EyeEm, Path and Vero. The site also gives a brief description of these sites that you might find quite handy.

If I weren't allergic to social media, I might even check some of them out.

And, of course, your mileage may vary.

But it's nice to see the free market opening up opportunities for other voices than those the lefty powers that be deem acceptable. After all, free speech means exactly what it purports to mean.

Copyright 2018 Jim Bray
TechnoFile.com

3 comments:

  1. One glaring problem Gab has is evident right here on your site coach. There's no shortcut to share articles on Gab. You have Twitter, Facebook, Pininterest and Google, but no Gab. I played on Gab early because I was annoyed by Twitter censorship. But I use my twitter to feed articles I'm interested in to my followers, and read articles of the people I follow.

    It's a simple missing part that Gab doesn't provide. But to me it's essential. I like your article and I would share it on Gab but you don't provide that function. I could copy and paste the url and it's only a small hassle. But small hassles lead me and other people to not go to GAB and stick with easy and hassle free twitter.

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  2. I've been on Gab for two years now. First it was great, but lately they've been making major changes without testing them, and it's been a disaster. Gab's programmers are incompetent at best. They seem unfamiliar with the concept of beta testing or rolling back a change if it's a disaster (as most of their changes are). To make matters worse, when they screw something up they then ignore customers/users who complain and refuse to fix it, instead moving on to the next screwup.

    Their Groups feature is a joke. It's not really Groups, it's just Topics with a banner photo. Group creators have zero control over who posts in their group or who's a member. Membership is meaningless because anyone can post in a Group when they're not a member. Group creators and members receive NO notifications when there's a new group post or member. Controversial groups get swamped by trolls shutting them down, so members can't communicate without seeing harassing, insulting and pornographic posts from trolls. Groups can't be used for their intended purpose.

    Another problem is a massive influx of leftist trolls trying to shut down people, groups and topics they don't like by flooding them with pornographic posts using bots. Gab's "mute" feature is useless because all it does is prevent you from seeing the troll's posts, while they can still see your profile and posts, and they post insulting replies (which you can't see) to everything you post. I've been doxed twice by trolls I'd previously muted. Gab does not allow you to report a user, only an individual post. So, bots and trolls who are there to shut down the site are given free reign. On Gab, trolls and saboteurs have more free speech rights than legitimate users. Victims are told they must censor themselves instead by "muting" and making their profiles private. Many trolls even use a #freespeech tag in their harassing posts!

    Recently Gab has made a cosmetic change to the appearance of conversations and replies, this change has caused so many bugs and problems (like extremely slow typing in replies and threads that are an illegible, jumbled mess) that the site is barely usable now. They refuse to acknowledge the errors, and refuse to fix them, instead sweeping problems under the rug and peddling this change as something positive.

    Many users are leaving Gab or talking about leaving because they're sick of putting up with the trolls and programming bugs and being ignored when they complain. I am one of those users. All of these issues could be dealt with but Gab staff refuses to take them seriously. I predict that unless Gab has a major change in attitude and focus (i.e. listening to customers, and stopping and getting rid of malicious and abusive users) they'll be left with nothing but trolls as their user base within a year.

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