The founder of social-media platform Gab, has been accused of wooing far-right figures to his platform with promises of greater visibility.
The allegation against Andrew Torba emerged after Gab was hacked and messages were published by the whistle-blowing website, Distributed Denial of Secrets.
Since Gab was founded in 2016 with a claim to “champion free speech,” it has become a haven for supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory and other far-right groups and individuals banned from mainstream platforms.
A cache of Gab data includes a conversation in which Mr Torba gave a “warm welcome” to Daryush Valizadeh. A social-media figure known as RooshV within the online “manosphere”, Mr Valizadeh has reportedly made derogatory comments about Jews as well as posting misogynistic material.
In an early exchange of messages, Mr Valizadeh thanked Mr Torba for his “warm welcome” and said: “I enjoy not having to self-censor like on Twitter.”
Mr Torba then said: “By the way feel free to back up all of your video content on Gab TV.” He later agreed to enable Mr Valizadeh to upload more than the site’s standard maximum daily video content. In a subsequent message, Mr Torba praised the notorious writer and publisher, E Michael Jones. Mr Jones has been interviewed several times on Mr Valizadeh’s podcast. Mr Torba wrote: “I am a huge fan of EMJ, too.”
Mr Jones reportedly has a long history of claiming that Jews are dedicated to “propagating and perpetrating attacks” on moral standards and on the Catholic Church and has argued that “mass killings of Jews” have been an “understandable reactions to Jewish beliefs and behaviour.”
Noting that Mr Jones hadn’t logged in to his Gab account “for some time,” Mr Torba asked Mr Valizadeh for help in encouraging Mr Jones to upload his videos to Gab TV, stating that this was “very important for the distribution and preservation of truth.”
Far-right figures have turned to sites such as Gab to avoid restrictions on hate-content on more mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Mr Torba has tried to distance Gab from the far-right groups that have made it their home. In 2018, on a podcast, he said: “Do we have alt-right users? Certainly. Alt-right users also exist on Facebook, on Twitter, on Reddit, and everywhere else on the Internet.” He went on to insist that Gab had “good people” who “believe in individual liberty…and free expression.”