MAGA Crowd Gets Its Wish for a Free Speech Hellhole, Patiently Awaits Trump’s Presence

MAGA Crowd Gets Its Wish for a Free Speech Hellhole, Patiently Awaits Trump’s Presence

Illustration for article titled MAGA Crowd Gets Its Wish for a Free Speech Hellhole, Patiently Awaits Trump’s Presence

Photo: Kevin Hagen (Getty Images)

Today, the Trump crew flies closer to that social media platform in the sky. Gaze upon GETTR, the “marketplace of ideas,” possibly the news cycle’s next black hole, and possibly the target of the next greatest cyberattack of all time.

As Fox News confirmed today, longtime Trump spokesperson and adviser Jason Miller—not an official Trump representative now, but perhaps closest-assistant-post-presidency—is behind the platform. An unverified account by the name of Jason Miller has opened with the directive: “Welcome all patriots, we are so glad you joined our freedom network.” An unverified @realDonaldTrump account also welcomes users to “my new Social Media Platform”—which tracks with his punctuation style, though Bloomberg senior White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted today that Trump has no plans to join, still dreaming of his very own platform.

Confusingly, Miller drummed up hype for a July 4 launch to Fox News, though GETTR is already online and available on the Google Play and Apple App Store.

Perhaps the pre-launch-launch for July 4 hype will give the site a head start to queue up an audience this time. After Trump’s brief, quiet microblogging journey flickered out in the dark night, Miller told Politico that the blog was “auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on.”

Miller defined GETTR as a place that “doesn’t de-platform for political beliefs” and made the astoundingly bold claim that it uses “cutting edge technology that will really be the envy of the social media world.”

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It looks like a Twitter clone filtered through Parler.

An unverified Stephen Miller is there. An account using a stock photo model as a profile pic is verified. Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell is also verified and crossposting his tweets, including verbatim retweets with tagged accounts that do not exist on GETTR. Some libs are also there, sharing their ideas. Newsmax, where Jason Miller contributes, is a verified user. (Newsmax confirmed to Gizmodo that it does not share an official affiliation with the site but that they “welcome more social media platforms offering a free and open venue for public discourse.”)

GETTR coincidentally arrived just after Florida’s social media law, a device to get Trump back on social media, was blocked by a federal judge. Essentially, under the law, Florida would hold Twitter for a $25,000-per-day ransom unless it allowed non-statewide political candidates (such as Donald J. Trump 2024) to use the site. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that the law plausibly violated Twitter’s First Amendment rights.

GETTR’s leadership is also charting perilous territory, setting itself up to take on an asteroid field of bile without alienating its user base. It has, in fact, set up a tactful strategy shielding itself with enough power to pick and choose what to remove while simultaneously absolving itself of moderation responsibilities. Its terms of service state that GETTR “may,” but, wisely, does “not commit to” (emphasis ours), remove content that it deems “offensive, obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, pornographic, violent, harassing, threatening, abusive, illegal, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate.” They cite “personal bullying” and “attacking any religion or race” as examples.

Following that logic, certain Trump darlings (not to mention Trump) have no place on GETTR. Already, unverified accounts purporting to be “Proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer and producer of racist videos Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—both of whom frequently campaign against perceived conservative censorship by Big Tech—appear on the site.

And then GETTR hedges again, allowing that it will “assume no responsibility for ongoing monitoring of the Interactive Community or for removal or editing of any UGC [user-generated content], even after receiving notice.”

Another question is whether GETTR will have the will or moderation capacity to filter even content that’s objectively dangerous, like the death threats famously unaddressed by Parler. Those led to Amazon Web Services booting the site from its servers, but GETTR might have a gentler host in Cloudflare, which doesn’t specify an expectation of moderation standards in its terms of service. After Cloudflare deplatformed the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer in 2017, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince almost immediately expressed regrets, sending a company-wide email describing his decision to boot the site while “in a bad mood” as a “dangerous” threat to free speech.

GETTR urges users to contact the site in the event that they spot “any unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, profane, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable material of any kind.” Does team Trump have limits? Contact them to find out.

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