It’s been just barely a month since the launch of Gettr, the right-wing MAGA social media site presenting itself as a free-speech-loving “marketplace of ideas,” and things are already a mess.
The Twitter knockoff is the brainchild of longtime (now former) Trump adviser Jason Miller, who has touted the site as a place that “doesn’t de-platform for political beliefs.” It does, notably, give administrators the ability to add or remove trending topics at will, as the site’s own source code shows. But sure, let’s keep pushing that “free speech” narrative.
Pretty much immediately after its launch (which was supposed to be a big July 4th debut but it quietly and inexplicably showed up on app stores days earlier), the site was overrun with leftist shitposters flooding the site with superbly NSFW memes. Hashtags like #QAnon, #BacktheBlue, and other right-wing interests were overtaken by all sorts of smut, much of it being Sonic the Hedgehog-themed.
As Kotaku (which also has screengrabs of said smutty socialist memes) wrote:
Sega’s speedy meme king is particularly well represented, with tags like #sonicfeet, #sonicismygod, #soniclovescommunism, #sonicmylove, and #sonic_came_in_my_bussy (ask your father about that one) tracking the sometimes-pregnant blue blur’s presence across the nascent social network for shitheads.
It looks like Gettr has gotten the Sonic memes cleared from the site (which is weird because I thought they were all about free speech!), only to see it replaced by a much more sinister force: ISIS propaganda.
An investigation by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks extremism online, found Islamic State supporters are using the nascent social network to distribute graphic videos and other terrorist propaganda, putting Gettr’s commitment to free speech ― and its moderation system ― to the test.
ISIS supporters reportedly used Facebook to coordinate their “raid and occupy” attack on Gettr, launching 20 accounts to start. Those 20 accounts pushed about 300 pieces of propaganda. Those 20 accounts have now grown to at least 250 and are posting a deluge of jihadi messages, “including graphic videos of beheadings, viral memes that promote violence against the West and even memes of a militant executing Trump in an orange jumpsuit similar to those used in Guantanamo Bay,” according to Politico.
Speaking with Politico, Jason Miller dismissed the ISIS supporters on the site as mere “keyboard warriors.” He told the outlet, “The only ISIS members still alive are keyboard warriors hiding in caves and eating dirt cookies” after Trump defeated the group militarily–a thing he did not actually do.
While some pro-terrorism posts and accounts have been removed from Gettr, many remain. That may have to do with the site’s moderation policy, which Politico has described as “spotty” and TechCrunch called “lax or nonexistent.”
GETTR uses a combination of AI and human moderation, which not only allows for violent propaganda to fall through the cracks but also lends itself to human bias in deciding what sorts of conversations get to be had. We’ve already seen other right-wing social media sites like Parler claim to be dedicated to “free speech” only to quickly ban those who disagreed with their talking points.
Gettr doesn’t exactly make it hard for agitators to flood its system, whether it’s with violent videos, Sonic hentai, or just old-school trolling. Signing up for an account requires absolutely no verification, not even an email address. This also makes it easy to impersonate other people (although they do have their own version of a blue check–a red V–for public figures). At the site’s launch, an unverified @realDonaldTrump account greeted users with a message welcoming them to “my new Social Media Platform,” although Trump is not actually on Gettr. Following the shuttering of his short-lived blog, he’s reportedly still holding on to plans to start his very own social media site.
News: Trump isn’t joining Jason Miller’s new social media platform, Gettr — won’t have any financial stake or participation, I’m told. Apparently the ex president still has plans for a separate platform. Unclear what exactly.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 1, 2021
Between the beheading videos, the cartoon porn, multiple hacks that released private data of users, and Trump’s refusal to join despite the fact that the entire site is built and marketed around him, Gettr is going just about as well as anyone could have predicted.
(image: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
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