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As President Donald Trump fumes at Twitter’s decision to fact-check two of his tweets this week, a ready-made replacement social network is trying to convince him to join.
Gab, a far-right social network that is filled with conspiracy theories, racism and antisemitism, is rolling out the red carpet for the president, with a verified account that has already amassed over 27,000 followers.
The account, which has the same handle and profile picture as Trump’s Twitter account, has a blue tick to show it’s a verified account. The holding page also claims Trump has been a member since 2016, even though he has yet to actually join and Gab itself only launched in 2017.
In an email sent to its members on Wednesday night, Gab said that it was “a historic day” for the social network and that it had “reached out to the Trump campaign to let them know that we have an account for the President.”
Trump lashed out at social media platforms in recent days, after Twitter fact-checked two of his tweets about mail-in voting. As a result, Trump is planning to target Twitter, Facebook, and Google by signing an executive order on Thursday that will require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review the protections provided to online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 has allowed companies like Facebook and Twitter — and Gab — to avoid legal liability for the material their users post.
It is unclear who Gab spoke to at the Trump campaign, and the site’s founder Andrew Torba told VICE News that he would not answer questions because of an article published last August that labeled the social network as an “extremist far-right” platform — even though the article didn’t actually do that.
Gab positions itself as a free speech platform, and Torba said that Gab is used by “millions of people from all different creeds and backgrounds around the world.” He says efforts to label the site as "far-right" are “tired, obnoxious, and incorrect.”
If Trump did decide to open a Gab account he would join the likes of far-right radio host Alex Jones, far-right political commentator Milo Yiannopolous and British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, all of whom have been banned from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The mass email sent on Wednesday night claimed that tens of thousands of Gab users returned to the site after Twitter’s actions, and that over 1,000 new users are signing up every hour “to join the millions of Gabbers in our community from around the world.”
Gab is now looking to leverage its members to persuade Trump to join the network. It is calling on them to tweet to the president and his campaign manager Brad Parscale, write a letter to the White House, or leave a comment on Trump’s Facebook posts.
Torba launched Gab in 2017 as a “free speech social network,” after growing disillusioned by Silicon Valley’s perceived bias and censorship. The site came to national prominence in 2018 when the suspect in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh posted an anti-Muslim screed on Gab hours before shooting and killing 11 people.
While Gab was taken offline in the aftermath of the shooting, it came back online soon after and has since thrived, adding numerous other features, including encrypted messaging and a news aggregator to rival The Drudge Report. In the coming weeks, it is planning to launch a video conference app to rival Zoom.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a "Rolling to Remember Ceremony," to honor the nation's veterans and POW/MIA, from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)