The co-founder and CEO of Voat – the Reddit free speech lookalike – shut down the website and said he just couldn’t keep up.
The investment went away in March of this year, says Justin Chastain in a post on the website, forcing him to fund it himself. But he has no more money now, he says.
“I’ve tried meditation, I’ve tried prayer, I’ve tried asking for help. Some solutions worked for a while, but nothing fixed the underlying problem,” he says.
While Voat was originally launched in 2014, it really gained momentum in 2015 after Reddit itself started banning offensive subreddits five years ago.
It welcomed content deemed too racist, far-right, or otherwise hateful by its competitors, and more recently has been a haven for conspiracy theories like QAnon.
However, Voat struggled from the start. Firstly, the German web host hosteurope.de has stopped supporting the website and has declared that it will not tolerate any illegal right-wing extremist content (Holocaust denial is a criminal offense in Germany).
Soon after, PayPal also disconnected from the website through “jailbait” threads that shared sexually explicit photos of children.
In his post, however, Chastain gets lyrical about the website.
“Voat has always had better community dynamics than any other website on the internet. In light of that, Voat has been sacrosanct. There will never be a Voat again, and each of us has had an opportunity to enjoy it. That’s great,” he says .
“Another great thing is that we stayed loyal here in the end. Atko [cofounder Atif Colo] and I never betrayed our users. ”
Most Voat users will likely turn their attention to Parler or Gab by now. Both apply as “free speech,” with Gab hosting anti-Semitic content from the start and Parler targeting mostly Trump-supportive conspiracy theorists.
However, Parler has had its own problems lately and reluctantly admits that some posts need to be censored after all. CEO John Matze recently urged users to review posts that spread viral misinformation. He later added, “If you disagree with someone, pictures of your feces will NOT be TOLERATED in the comments section.”
It is possible that Voat will reappear and some users are trying to raise funds to keep it going. With others now accusing Chastain of being a Mossad agent or an intelligence honeypot, he may not be too inclined to try.