Today the mobile version of Gab.ai—the invite-only free(ish) speech social network that has become the de facto home for many of the alt-right ecelebrities banned from Twitter—was not approved for placement on Apple’s App Store. CEO Andrew Torba isn’t taking it well.
In an eight-minute Periscope stream, Torba, in a green MAGA hat and unlicensed LEGO Trump t-shirt, cried foul at Apple’s claims of Gab containing “defamatory or mean-spirited content.” Gab is widely known as a safe space for trolls, and according to the stream a Gab mobile app has already been rejected “eight of nine times.” How did Torba defend his platform from these allegations? By claiming Apple couldn’t have possibly found any of the objectionable content the site traffics in if they were truly using the hobbled test account Gab handed them.
The bare-bones build of Gab that Torba and Co. submitted to Apple apparently contained almost none of the features available on the web version. Search functionality and aggregated feeds were, among other things, was removed entirely, and the Apple test account wasn’t following any other users. In short, a totally blank, useless app. Torba’s “gotcha” was that Apple found objectionable content anyway, he claims, by accessing the web app which “has absolutely nothing to do with the iOS build.” I’m sure they believe you.
Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter are used as examples of platforms that appear on the App Store. All three undoubtedly contain some objectionable content. But it speaks volumes that the only way not to encounter race-baiting and hate speech on Gab is by using a version of the social network that’s been put on mute.
Torba, who is most famous for getting kicked out of startup accelerator Y Combinator for harassment late last year, even admits during the Periscope stream that “your best experience would be to start on the web app and then go to the iOS app after you have a bunch of followers.”
He promised (or threatened, however you see it) to continue stripping parts from the Gab mobile app until it meets Apple’s standards. If we’re lucky, he’ll dismantle it entirely.
We’ve reached out to Apple and Gab for comment.
[h/t Jack Crosbie]