The CEO of the new right-leaning social media app Gettr suggested nefarious foreign actors were behind a coordinated trolling campaign that flooded the platform with obscene images.
In an exclusive interview with the Washington Free Beacon, Jason Miller, Gettr’s founder and former spokesman for President Donald Trump, said "authoritarian regimes may have an interest in doing things to us in surreptitious ways." When asked why foreign countries would be interested in Gettr, Miller said, "When you're pushing for democracy and freedom, you'll have a big target on your back."
Gettr, a Twitter-style platform that promises to uphold free speech, launched on July 4. It took off with conservatives, gaining over a million downloads in the days after its launch. But it has also been swamped by trolls posting obscene images, a development Miller called "orchestrated and coordinated." Miller did not name the country he believed was behind the trolls.
A portmanteau of "get together," Gettr has billed itself as a social media space where users won’t be banned for their political speech. But it faces challenges as it attempts to compete with social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. As trolls swarm Gettr, the platform may be forced to moderate content more aggressively, even as it tries to build a reputation as a freer online space.
Miller shrugged off the trolling, saying every social media platform deals with similar challenges. He pointed to the platform’s growth metrics and told the Free Beacon that Gettr’s commitment to free speech is driving its success.
But Miller recognizes that the platform’s moderators must weigh political speech against other values when assessing posts. "With some of the early spamming, this is not an environment where—we don't want people posting pornography, or religious epithets, or doxing or bullying somebody. If you would get in trouble in real life for doing these things, you'll get in trouble on our platform as well."
The platform automatically bans profanity, including words like "bullshit" and "fuck." Users have complained Gettr’s algorithm also bans words like "destroy," even when not used in an aggressive context. Users on both sides of the aisle have complained their accounts were limited from posting multiple times in a given time period, or restricted for profanity.
Gettr’s primary challenge is to provide an alternative to Twitter and Facebook without mimicking their behaviors. Both platforms have come under fire for banning users or hiding posts without justification, and for using automated systems to remove posts without human review.
Gettr’s terms of service state the platform "may, in its sole discretion, reject, delete, move, re-format, remove, or refuse to post" content from users without notifying them. The terms are similar to Twitter and Facebook’s. A Gettr spokesman said the app will soon implement a policy of notifying users when their content is removed.
The platform could struggle to gain a foothold in an increasingly consolidated tech environment. Like many other websites, Gettr relies on Amazon Web Services to host its servers. Shortly after the Jan. 6 riots, Amazon stopped hosting the conservative social media site Parler, citing dangerous speech on the platform. Some conservatives fear Gettr and other upstart social media platforms may suffer the same fate.
Miller told the Free Beacon that his app is starting with Amazon Web Services, "but we have redundancies and backups." But he also said "there are certain places where we can't have a redundancy," citing consolidation in the tech industry. Miller said Gettr has a "Plan B" in place in case Amazon decides to remove it, but he avoided sharing details, except to say that a transition would not happen immediately.
The platform has closely aligned itself with Trump, though Trump himself has so far not joined. The former president announced last week his plans to sue Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for removing him after his Jan. 6 comments and attacked the "illegal and shameful censorship of the American people."