The alternative(-right) social network is looking for a safe harbor within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It won’t find it with the Cash App.
Two days ago, on January 6, Gab caused some commotion when it tweeted about the Cash App, which is owned by Square. Normally, that wouldn’t be much to report. However, Gab, which bills itself as the “social network that champions free speech” had previously seen its Cash App account deactivated.
The words “free at last” seemed to imply that its account had been reactivated. The tweet prompted BREAKER to follow up, and the magazine reported yesterday, January 7, that the Cash App had not in fact reauthorized the site.
A source familiar with the matter also told ETHNews that the Gab account remains deactivated for violating its terms of services and that any new accounts created would also be deactivated. Section 3 of Square’s general terms of service states one may not use its services for “hate or harmful products.”
Gab, which has provided safe harbor to voices removed from other social networks – among them Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, and Milo Yiannopoulos – came onto the national radar after it was discovered that Robert Bowers, the suspected perpetrator of a Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that killed 11 people last October, posted [paywall] anti-Semitic messages on the network.
A quick review of Gab reveals no shortage of racial slurs and extremist ideologies, as one might expect from a platform with little in the way of moderation. Upon joining, the first post I saw was an image of a northern European woman surrounded by sunflowers and the caption “Love Your Folk.” Underneath, was a comment: “White People NEED to UNITE and MULTIPLY before invading ALL the invaders.”
Since the shooting, Gab itself has struggled to find safe harbor. After GoDaddy said it could no longer provide the social network with its domain name, lesser-known Epik picked it up on philosophical grounds; reliable web hosting has also been an issue, with Joyent refusing to continue business with it.
More problematic for the network, however, is the threat to its business model. Rather than run ads, Gab relies on income through subscriptions/donations to GabPro, which provides additional features for members such as identity verification and the ability to bookmark.
But mainstream internet payment processors Stripe and PayPal have both declined to work with Gab. Although the network turned to crypto payment processors, a seemingly reasonable play given crypto’s libertarian roots, neither BitPay nor Coinbase wanted to take Gab’s money. It ultimately landed with BTCPay Server.
Recent urgings for its members to download the Cash App doesn’t mean Gab is back in the app’s good graces. In a tweet today, the company said that Gab founder Andrew Torba’s personal Cash App account had been blocked. It then followed up by acknowledging that, no, Gab’s own account hasn’t been reactivated after all. It just likes the service.
It’s hard to determine the marketing strategy behind its frequent unreciprocated high fives to the app that wants nothing to do with it, but there are two possibilities. The first is that Gab means what it says: More Cash App users means more adoption of bitcoin, which it calls a “censorship-resistant free speech money.” Such a currency matches its general ethos.
More pragmatically, it’s also possible that this is all linked to a fundraising drive. In a letter to users today, Gab cited its deplatforming and blacklisting from multiple sites before encouraging members to send checks to its physical address or pay with bitcoin. The Cash App, then, is a means to achieve the first step in paying Gab with crypto. As Gab states, it’s “one of the easiest ways to get bitcoin right on your mobile device.”
Note: ETHNews reached out to Gab for comment but has not yet received a response.
Jeff Benson is Managing Editor of ETHNews. He’s worked as a writer and editor everywhere from Sudan to Reno. He holds a bachelor’s in politics from Willamette University and a master’s in nationalism studies from University of Edinburgh. When he’s not in the newsroom, he trots the globe and writes about it. He holds a bit of value in ETH.
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