The alt-right is finding itself increasingly unwelcome on major social media and crowdfunding platforms. Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet was recently banned from GoFundMe over soliciting travel funds for a white power rally. Alt-right journalist James Allsup announced that his campaign was likewise terminated. Lauren Southern, whose Patreon account was shut down, posted a video attacking the site’s co-founder Jack Conte — in drag, no less.
Several racist or conspiracy-oriented subreddits — including r/CoonTown, r/altright, and r/Pizzagate — were banned by Reddit’s administrators for promoting white supremacy and doxxing. And on Twitter, scores of alt-right trolls have been banned for violating the platform’s prohibitions on hate speech and targeted harassment.
Getting banned from Twitter inspired alt-right trolls to repeatedly find new ways around the bans, with some users creating dozens of replacement accounts which inevitably get suspended — or “shoah’d” in alt-right parlance. And the dearth of mainstream crowdfunding platforms willing to host alt-right campaigns forced white nationalists to take donations via Paypal or, failing that, Bitcoin.
Others decided that their time would be better spent creating their own “pro-free speech” platforms that would be decidedly less hostile to their extremist politics. To that end, the far-right has created the following knock-offs of social media and crowdfunding platforms through which they can propagandize and raise funds undisturbed.
Founded in August 2016 by Trump-supporter Andrew Torba, GAB was a response to perceived censorship and left-wing bias of Twitter. As Torba told BuzzFeed News, “What makes the entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly qualified to tell us what is ‘news’ and what is ‘trending’ and to define what ‘harassment’ means? It didn’t feel right to me, and I wanted to change it, and give people something that would be fair and just.”
The social media platform has attracted alt-right and alt-lite figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Anthony Cumia, and Matt Forney whose accounts were permanently suspended by Twitter. Fittingly enough, GAB’s logo is a cartoon frog, although Torba denies that it was inspired by alt-right mascot Pepe.
In early 2016, alt-right trolls Chuck Johnson and Pax Dickinson announced the creation of WeSearchr. An alternative to crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe, WeSearchr allows users — called “Askers” — to ask questions and raise money to pay for the answer, which can come from “researchers, journalists, trolls, or whistleblowers.”
Existing bounties include searches for financial crimes committed by ex-Gawker CEO Nick Denton, evidence of adultery by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and the identity of the man who sucker punched Richard Spencer.
But the scope of WeSearchr’s work has slowly expanded into other projects, including flying Kathy Shelton — whose rapist Hillary Clinton was appointed to defend in court decades ago — to the final presidential debate. Currently WeSearchr is popular among white supremacists seeking to defray legal expenses. The Daily Stormer raised over $150,000 on WeSearchr to defend itself against a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
An obvious Patreon knockoff, Hatreon is a recent creation of 29-year-old Cody R. Wilson, an anarchist and Second Amendment rights activist best known for publishing designs for 3D printed firearms. (Last year, Wilson authored the book Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free.) In a recent appearance on The Dick Show, Wilson complained about right-wing YouTube personalities like Sargon of Akkad having Patreon accounts investigated or shut down.
“Everything is falling into this forced consensus, forced progressive talk of happiness and union, and no one’s ultimately gonna be able to disagree, and everything’s gonna be hate speech and harassment,” Wilson said. “I feel the same practices closing in on everything, right? It ruined Twitter. It’s ruining every place of public discussion, ’cause it’s these same San Francisco and New York types that control it all.”
Wilson claimed that this was his impetus for his creating Hatreon, and called the site a “gesture of good will to some of my friends that actually got kicked off of Patreon.” Some notable Hatreon users include Colin Robertson (a.k.a. “Millennial Woes”), Tara McCarthy, Richard Spencer, Sam Hyde, Andrew Anglin, and Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Originally known as WhoaVerse, Voat was created as a hobby by University of Zürich student Atif Colo in 2014. The website — the design and function of which is nearly identical to Reddit — was renamed a year later because WhoaVerse was deemed difficult to “pronounce,” “write and remember.” Colo was later joined by Justin Chastain — who in January 2017 became Voat’s CEO.
Voat’s increase in popularity unsurprisingly coincided with the banning of controversial groups on Reddit, including r/FatPeopleHate which boasted a whopping 150,000 members. And in 2016 Reddit banned the disturbingly popular Pizzagate subreddit over doxxing and harassment concerns, prompting legions of conspiracy-loving members to relocate to Voat.
The youngest of the group, RootBocks is a crowdfunding platform created just last month. Yet it’s already making a splash in alt-right circles, and was hailed as a “pro-first amendment [sic], anti-censorship, crowdfunding platform” in an article for AltRight.com. That same article touts endorsements by Identity Evropa leader Nathan Damigo, Fash the Nation co-host Jazzhands McFeels, and NPI’s Richard Spencer.
According to the “About Us” section of RootBocks, the website is “dedicated to the principles of liberty and freedom of speech” and “will not shut down a project simply because it is unpopular, controversial, politically incorrect, or because we receive complaints about the person and/or group that created it.” Not much is known about the website, aside from the copyright holder being listed as J&K Business Solutions LLC.