Maybe you’ve heard a thing or two about Twitter censoring people, often selectively based on political preferences or personal relationships. Or perhaps that the company manipulates it’s “Trending” feature to control what gets listed at the top, despite how many people are actually tweeting about it.
Twitter is well within its rights to do this. And maybe you’re okay with it! But Andrew Torba wasn’t.
Torba, a Bay Area tech entrepreneur recently launched Gab.ai, as a competing platform to Twitter. And unlike Twitter, Torba vows that he will let users dictate what they see or don’t. It is based on what Torba calls a #SpeakFreely mindset.
This is because Torba believes that the only valid form of censorship is self-censorship: Don’t like it? Don’t read it.
Called #SeeNoEvil, the feature lets users decide what they want to filter out of their Gab experience.
And guess what? I’ve been lucky enough to get onto the beta version of Gab. So here are my first impressions.
First, the functionality is familiar if you’re used to Twitter: Users’ handles are preceded by @, there are hashtags, notifications, reposting (think retweeting), trending topics, emojis, etc. The learning curve is very small, mainly consisting of getting used to the user interface.
There are refinements to this, such as being able to sort your notifications by type, but I haven’t had a need for this yet.
The user base is obviously smaller, and is pretty one-sided so far, consisting of a lot of people dissatisfied with Twitter, or who have had their accounts suspended or locked for certain things they’ve said. So it’s a bit of an echo chamber, but that should change once the platform opens up to everybody.
Interestingly, you can upvote or downvote posts, expressing your approval or disapproval, as opposed to only “liking” things. It all goes towards that free speech thing, I suppose.
Some functions are lacking. You cannot insert images directly into posts, but must paste the link for the photo to appear. Also, there’s no mobile app, though one is forthcoming. Luckily, the mobile in-browser display is mostly fine.
But, and here’s a huge one: Gab has a 300 character limit over Twitter’s 140. So far, I feel that this is a good upgrade without being too big of a number. It makes having slightly more nuanced conversations far easier.
I do think that Gab needs to replicate the full functionality of Twitter as quickly as possible in order to entice Twitter users to hop on board. I’m sure this is something they’re working on, but Twitter has created a good user experience that many will find hard to give up or split time between, especially power users who use Twitter to drive their businesses.
Lastly, if there isn’t one already, I think an edit feature could definitely create a buzz and convert Tweeters to Gab.
So there you have it. I’m a fan so far, and predict big things for Gab as the product gets refined and the user base grows. More characters and no top-down censorship coupled with an excited, active crew of early adopters. I’m optimistic about Gab, I recommend requesting an invite on Gab.ai so you can start gabbing along with the rest of us loudmouths.
UPDATE: As of September 12, Gab now has an edit function.
Note: I am getting paid nothing by Mr. Torba, any other of the fine folks at Gab, or anybody whatsoever for writing this review, nor have I been asked by anybody to write it. This is purely of my own accord and based on my own experience and opinion of the product; hence the “unpaid.”
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