In “Meditation XVII,” the poet John Donne famously coined the aphorism “No man is an island.” That may be true, but what about a social network?
Gab is pretty damn close. The highly controversial platform has been blacklisted by email services and web servers, its tools have been banned from the Firefox and Chrome browsers and its payment pipelines have been shut off by the likes of PayPal and popular credit cards. These bans have come in reaction to Gab’s primarily far-right user base, which has been accused of encouraging violent, white nationalist rhetoric — case in point: The 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter was an avid user of the site.
Gab, Free Speech and Bitcoin
A self-described “free speech network,” Gab refuses to censor even the most radical messages, lest it abandon its laissez-faire ideals. Consequently, Gab has become increasingly ostracized from the wider web and its services, and it’s started to build out its own tools in a bid for self sufficiency.
It’s little surprise, then, that Gab found bitcoin and became a fan of the censorship-resistant cryptocurrency. Gab is playing the long game with bitcoin as one of its primary funding instruments and is now doubling down on its commitment by not just supporting the payment method, but by launching an educational campaign and planning a Lightning Network integration as well.
“Bitcoin is free speech money,” a Gab blog post by founder Andrew Torba, posted on October 7, 2019, reads. “It is now approximately 30% of Gab’s operating revenue as of this writing. We expect this to grow going into 2020 and beyond.”
The same post revealed that Gab’s business account has been banned from PayPal, Strip, Square and over 50 banks. But it’s also been banned from centralized bitcoin payment processors like BitPay and Coinbase.
This is why “Gab needs bitcoin,” as the post claims. It’s the obvious “path forward” if Gab, and its community, wants to grow. To better its chances, Gab will be rolling out educational resources to teach the masses what bitcoin is, how it works and why its design makes it ideal for people or entities in Gab’s position.
“Over the course of the next several months Gab is going to be creating educational content about bitcoin. There’s a lot to unpack, but we want to provide educational resources that are easy for anyone to understand,” the post reads.
Gab’s recent post also hints at a Lightning Network integration, noting that its team is “speaking with partners at every level of onboarding and infrastructure for bitcoin wallets, payments, and exchanges.”
Building Bitcoin Around Gab
By emboldening its commitment to bitcoin, Gab believes it has the chance to introduce the cryptocurrency and its underlying technology to millions of new users. And it already has the product and tools to create real functionality within its social network, the post boasts, throwing shade at ICOs and other cryptocurrency upstarts which “lack” a basic business model.
Torba recognizes that bitcoin is a bewildering topic to most, that its technical intricacies can be daunting. But he concludes his post with a call to action that encourages people to “not be intimidated by free speech money.”
“We aren’t asking anyone to invest their life savings into bitcoin,” the last paragraph of the post reads. “We are asking you to do the research, learn, and purchase a small amount in order to support Gab and content creators who have been banned from traditional payment processors online. This is how we will win, together, without permission from anyone.”
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