Gab: More Sinned Against than Sinning
The social media company Gab has come in for recent condemnation due to some objectionable remarks made by its founder Andrew Torba. Torba's statement "We must be grounded in Biblical Truth and led by people who call Christ their King" contravenes our nation's fundamental values as expressed in our Constitution: “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The Founding Fathers were quite familiar with religious tests in countries such as Spain where non-Catholics were not welcome, period, and also their own country of origin where the Church of England held sway. This is, however, a problem with Torba rather than Gab, just as even worse material posted there by others reflects on those individuals rather than the platform itself. This is because Gab is a First Amendment platform which means it does not moderate or ban user-posted content unless it is unlawful speech that the First Amendment does not protect, such as illegal drug sales and violent threats.
Another way of saying this is that Gab allows all forms of hate speech, and presumably condemnation of the hate speech and its sources, while I and others perceive Facebook and Twitter as selective about the kinds of hate speech they will tolerate such this tweet that equates the Star of David to Nazism, and this one that superimposes a swastika on the Star of David, although Twitter did remove the account called TruthAboutJews. "You keep what you don't delete" means that, when any social media platform reserves and exercises its right to ban content and/or users who violate what they call their community standards, it's ethically and morally responsible for whatever content and users it doesn't ban.
Gab Exists for a Reason
Products and services are introduced almost universally to satisfy unmet needs. Speakeasies and Mob-supplied bootleg alcohol were easily foreseeable reactions to Prohibition, and they were tolerated or even welcomed by most of the communities in which they operated. Democrats have proposed the installation of drunk-driving interlock technology in all new vehicles (as opposed to only those of people who have actually been convicted of drunk driving) which will doubtlessly create a demand for ways to bypass or disable these interlocks. The vast majority of vehicle owners who drive sober will welcome and support these fixes. An easily foreseeable consequence is that convicted drunk drivers will also use these circumvention methods regardless of potential sanctions for violating the terms of restoration of their driving privileges, so it is perhaps best to avoid creating mainstream demand for circumvention technologies in the first place. Gab would similarly not exist had Facebook and Twitter not created a need for it. Torba and Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s chief communications officer, cited what they call censorship by Facebook, Twitter, and also Reddit.
Facebook has become infamous for restricting users' accounts, i.e. putting them in "Facebook jail," based on the apparent whims of moderators who come across as applying their personal biases as opposed to any objective standards. It took Facebook quite some time, though, to remove a blatantly anti-Semitic page called "Jewish Ritual Murder," and it did so only in response to widespread bad press rather than a long litany of complaints. Its answer to some of these complaints was, in fact, that "Jewish Ritual Murder" did not violate the Community Standards. "Anti-Zionist Jews and Friends" blames Israel for 9/11 and is still online as of August 14. 2022 even though fake news and conspiracy theories violate what Facebook calls its Community Standards. A Google search on site:Facebook.com and "From the river to the sea," a call for the destruction of Israel, is highly instructive. It's apparently not okay with Facebook for Marjorie Taylor Greene to post inaccurate information about COVID-19 (and this inaccurate information does not have my support) but okay with "Anti-Zionist Jews and Friends" to post a picture of Benjamin Netanyahu pointing to the World Trade Center and saying "The Mossad put the explosives here." If Facebook can ban Donald Trump then it ought to be able to see its way clear to ridding itself of a page whose address is "deathtozionism," and also this page that equates Zionism to racism, and falsely accuses Israel of mass murder and ethnic cleansing. The issue is not what one thinks of Trump but rather that, as Facebook has taken on the authority to ban objectionable content, it needs to accept the responsibility to do so equitably and without exception. The presence of the indicated content shows that this has not happened.
LinkedIn's moderators have allegedly restricted accounts that promoted pro-Israel and pro-Ukraine content. "How Russia Is Using LinkedIn as a Tool of War Against Its U.S. Enemies" shows that this is apparently not a new problem, nor are these incidents isolated. This kind of moderation is, as with Facebook, exactly what creates the need for platforms like Gab.
Acknowledgement of Gab's Reason for Existence is Not Endorsement of Gab's Content
None of this excuses racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, homophobic, or other hate speech that appears on Gab or anywhere else. The correct response is for others to exercise their own First Amendment rights to denounce the hate speech as un-American as defined by Theodore Roosevelt's essay: "…It is a base outrage to oppose a man because of his religion or birthplace, and all good citizens will hold any such effort in abhorrence." Roosevelt made it clear that anybody who adopts our national values and Americanizes is one of us regardless of when he or she, or his or her ancestors, came here. Anybody who does not subscribe to our national values does not belong here even if his or her ancestors arrived on the Mayflower. These undesirables include anybody, including white nationalists, who believes this country is for only those of a particular race or religion. This is also just about everything one needs to know about diversity, equity, and inclusion in less than a single paragraph, and one does not have to pay astronomical tuition to some "woke" university to learn it.
Anybody who is against another American for his or her race, ethnicity, religion, or other reason unrelated to that person's behavior is therefore un-American and "despicable" according to Theodore Roosevelt. That is all I have to say to those who use Gab or any other platform to promote divisive and Balkanizing hatred, but the bottom line is that Gab would probably not exist in the absence of controversial moderation policies at large mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history, and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. He or she is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.