Wednesday’s pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill brought about an unprecedented crackdown on free speech by America’s tech giants. President Trump was permanently booted off Twitter, and indefinitely suspended from every other major platform, while thousands of conservatives had their accounts deleted. Free speech-focused alternative Parler was then removed from Apple and Google’s online marketplaces, before being denied web hosting altogether by Amazon, whose cloud-hosting servers Parler used. Every company involved claimed that Trump’s continued presence on their platforms increased the risk of violence, given five people died during the Capitol Hill riot.
The crackdown gave an unlikely boost to Gab, another Twitter-like platform whose selling point is its professed commitment to free speech. Gab has been around since 2016, but its existence has been mired in controversy due the proliferation of racist content on its platform and CEO Andrew Torba’s refusal to “police what is hate speech and what isn’t.”
Nevertheless, users exiled from mainstream social media platforms have signed up to Gab in droves over the last three days. In a post to Twitter on Saturday, Torba claimed that more than 10,000 new users were signing up every hour.