Gab.com: Initial Impressions

Updated May 2021

Since breaking up with Twitter, I initially planned to count it as “cutting the fat” in my online diet. I had no intentions of replacing Twitter and was even eyeing Facebook with *well-earned* suspicion.

But I’m a communicator at heart (and an introvert at that!). I have thoughts I want to share and am often unwilling to share them on Mark Zuckerberg’s data-farming sites. As a Christian, I have the vision and conviction to use a public platform—no matter how small the following—for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read more: Think small: Rethinking influence from a Christian perspective

It seemed like Gab.com was quickly gaining traction as an alternative to Twitter, one that hasn’t been taken down by Big Tech as Parler had. So I gave it a whirl, thinking I might as well lay claim to a decent handle (turns out you can’t change your username/handle after you create your account, so choose carefully!).

My perception was right. Since last month’s censorship rampage, people have been flocking to Gab by the MILLIONS. Check out these stats that Gab CEO Andrew Torba shared recently:

Now, I’m not here to sell you on Gab. In fact, you’d probably live a happier life with NO social media accounts to distract you from what’s most important. But in case you’re interested in an alternative to Twitter, I’d like to point out a few of the neat things (and not-so-neat things) I’m discovering as I explore this new platform.

Note: You won’t find their app in Apple or Google app stores—Gab didn’t meet the criteria, since they don’t censor content. You can find instructions for how to add the app to your phone here.

Gab doesn’t censor anyone’s viewpoint, living up to the goal of free speech for ALL.

Though all viewpoints are welcome, there is a overwhelmingly conservative membership on Gab. This is unsurprising seeing as conservative voices were kicked off of many of the major platforms. So, leaving the big tech liberal echochambers, you’re entering a conservative echochamber.

On Gab, you do see some of the same nastiness that exists on Twitter or Facebook, but I appreciate that they don’t use censorship as a weapon to neutralize viewpoints. You can choose to engage or disengage from Gab groups that become too polarizing.

You can join interest-based groups.

Anyone on Gab can create a group, and when you do, you can set your group’s own rules—same as Facebook Groups. Some groups lack quality control, so you occasionally get flooded with spammy or off-topic posts, but that’s the price you pay for loose censorship.

You can explore hot topics or popular posts.

As far as I can tell, hashtags aren’t as useful for joining a conversation as they are on Twitter, but that can be a good thing. One thing I couldn’t stand about Twitter was always seeing the obnoxious trending hashtags on the right side of the screen. Groups are definitely the organizing feature on Gab.

Gab offers a newsfeed feature and YouTube-like video service.

The newsfeed section is called Gab Trends. I haven’t used this section much, since they news “articles” are basically headlines taken from external sites (mainly conservative) with a link to the site. Not a great way to consume the news, in my opinion.

The video site is called Gab TV. Again, I haven’t used this feature much—at this point in development, it’s just a weak alternative to YouTube.

Gab has its own privacy browser called Dissenter.

I really like Dissenter. You can easily import your bookmarks from Chrome or another browser, and its features are simple and intuitive. Dissenter blocks ads and trackers, which is awesome for online privacy but makes it difficult to use some sites, especially video streaming services. I simply use Chrome for these types of sites and Dissenter for everything else.

Gab offers additional features for Pro users.

When you purchase a yearly or one-time life subscription, you unlock features like the ability to get verified, post scheduling, a rich text editor, access to your own Gab TV channel, ad removal, the Pro badge on your profile, and the ability to bookmark posts and create self-destructing posts. Again, I’m not a subscriber (yet), so I can’t speak to the quality of these features.

You can edit a post after publishing it!

Seriously, Twitter, would it have been that hard to make Tweets editable?

Gab has quite a few more features, such as a chat feature, a merch store, GabDeck (like TweetDeck), and more. I haven’t used Gab extensively enough and don’t have a Pro account, so I can’t speak for all the features. I’ve only highlighted the things I’ve found most significant as a new Gab user.

There are some drawbacks…

Since Gab is attempting to accomplish more than a simple social media feed, it’s a bit underdeveloped and confusing in some areas:

  • Mobile and web apps run slowly
  • Groups, TV, and Trends are unrefined
  • When you create your account, you’re automatically following a few people
  • It’s difficult to edit your settings on the mobile app
  • Like I said before, you can’t change your username

I’m sure many of these issues will be ironed out over time as the platform grows and develops. Personally, I don’t mind that Gab runs on the slower side. It makes me approach the site more intentionally, rather than mindlessly scrolling.

My profile on Gab.com

Bottom Line

Gab seems to have a lot of potential. Many people (myself included) will gladly accept a slightly clunkier site for the advantage of being uncensored and enjoying relative privacy. I appreciate that there’s a company standing against the tide of the Big Tech social media giants and creating something new and (so far) successful.

Again, I’m relatively new to the platform, so I’m not pronouncing a judgment for or against Gab. I may update this post after I’ve gotten to know the ropes a bit better.

I’d like to know your thoughts: Have you used Gab or another alternative social media site? What were your impressions?

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