by Robert DeVoe
Alternative social media platform Gab recently announced its intention to launch an SEC compliant ICO. Shortly after the announcement, major crypto news website CoinDesk declared Gab as an “alt-right friendly” service and a “gathering place for the alt-right.” In emails with Gab the author of the article wrote that even though that statement (at least in the title) was likely meant to be clickbait, they still stand by it. So what is Gab, why are they being labeled alt-right by CoinDesk, and what are the plans for their ICO?
A Bastion of true Free Speech on the Internet
Would you feel comfortable posting something on Twitter that doesn’t align with normal, left wing and “politically correct” ideologies? For most people on Twitter (as well as Facebook, and YouTube), they would choose to self-censor instead of revealing themselves as holding an opinion that is different from what normal corporate left-wing ideology would allow. Even something as simple as saying you like the current president of the US, or that he did something good could get you banned from the platform, attacked by an angry online mob, or worse.
Gab has a very different approach to this issue. Instead of banning, shadow banning (not openly banning, but instead intentionally hiding your posts from others), or censoring content that differs from the party line, they have decided to very openly and absolutely protect free speech online. A recent video series by Project Veritas revealed that Twitter actively engages in censoring content that does not align with its own political bias. Gab was founded in August 2016 as a direct response to the perceived control of online platforms by the “Big Social Monopoly.”
Many in the mainstream and left-wing extremist media have declared Gab (and by extension, a dedication to free speech) as “alt-right.” While there is a lot of hate speech to be found on Gab, it is open to all and the “alt-right” have flocked there because it is one of the only spaces online where speech is not restricted based on political leanings; the social platform stated it does not police what is and isn’t hate speech. CoinDesk seems to have joined on the bandwagon of attacking Gab using provably falsifiable statements. This brings into question the political honesty of the site, as they are seemingly pushing opinion as news.
The Gab ICO
Gab is planning to release ERC-20 tokens that will be SEC registered under Reg A+. This means that they are effectively shares in the company and that they should be purchasable by Americans regardless of their being accredited or not. The SEC filing states that the ICO will be for tokens that are “Class B Non-Voting Common Stock, par value $0.0001 per share, in the form of electronic tokens issued via ERC-20 Smart Contracts (“GAB Tokens”), at a price of $5.00 per token.”
In addition to representing ownership in the company, the ERC-20 tokens may at some point be usable through a concept that Gab is calling the Exodus protocol. While not many details are available just yet, official sources are making statements that imply that at one point, the tokens could be used as a way to help the network spread its server load, and in theory, earn a cryptocurrency reward for doing so. At this point, however, only speculation is available as Gab has yet to announce the full technical details of the protocol.
The community has already shown interest in the offering as more than $1 million has been pledged to the ICO event. Individual Gab tokens will be selling for about five dollars each according to the SEC filing, with a hard cap of $10 million.
Leading the way for more SEC compliant ICO’s
If this ICO is successful, it may lead to other companies offering similar ICO’s that will represent legal shares in a startup company. It’s possible that in the future, we may even see non-tech businesses holding similar offerings as a fund-raising mechanism that bypasses the cumbersome traditional listing process.