The world of MAGA social networks is starting to feel as crowded as the landscape of non-MAGA social networks.
Associates of Donald Trump launched an alternative social media site called GETTR on Thursday that was almost immediately overrun by porn and white supremacists. Former Trump aide and spokesperson Jason Miller is the founder of the platform, and another former campaign spokesperson, Tim Murtaugh, is a consultant. The Daily Beast also reported that Guo Wengui, an exiled billionaire from China and associate of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, provided early funding for GETTR. Yet the former president himself is apparently not a part of the venture, as reports indicate he has no plans to set up an account or acquire a financial stake in GETTR. Given the depravity that has already consumed the site, it doesn’t seem very likely he’ll change his mind.
GETTR is a lot like Twitter, except with worse functionality and more racism. The main interface is a feed of posts from accounts you follow. When setting up your account, there’s actually an option to import your Twitter content into GETTR. It appears the platform is reserving handles that prominent conservatives have on Twitter in case they want to join. For instance, you can’t claim the handle @realdonaldtrump; Miller told Politico, “The former president is going to make his own decision, it’s certainly there and ready for him should he make the decision—we would welcome that. There is an account reserved for him and waiting for him but that’s a decision for him to make.” My attempts to snag such a coveted handle revealed that @mike_Pence, @donaldjtrumpjr, and @tiffanyatrump have also apparently been reserved. Well-known conservatives like Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward and Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell already have accounts set up. GETTR’s promotional image showing a user named Cameron Miily, though, reportedly actually uses a stock photo of a woman in Kazakhstan.
The allure of GETTR is supposed to be its laxer approach to moderation, a common subject of complaint among right-wingers when it comes to mainstream social media, even as they seem to generally thrive there. However, GETTR leaves the door open for content that even most MAGA fans probably wouldn’t be too comfortable with. As Mother Jones’ Ali Breland reports, in its first day online the platform was flooded with hentai and crude photoshops of Hillary Clinton’s head on a nude woman’s body. Users are also apparently trying to hijack the #QAnon hashtag with outré porn and a picture of a pig with extremely large balls. Mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook typically use automated systems to censor or remove pornography; while GETTR’s terms of service say it reserves the right to remove obscene and pornographic material, it does not seem to have a similar automated system in place.
The platform’s terms of service also note that while it “holds freedom of speech as its core value and does not wish to censor your opinions,” it nevertheless prohibits “hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable material of any kind.” Yet it’s still easy to find 4chan-level racist shitposting, with users spamming feeds with racial epithets and endorsements of Hitler. Hashtags with slurs are also gaining a lot of traction on the platform. GETTR decided to step in on Thursday to suspend an account belonging to Tim Gionet, better known as Baked Alaska, a prominent white supremacist who was arrested by the FBI for allegedly participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. An account purporting to belong to far-right celebrity Nick Fuentes has also called on his “groyper army” of followers to take over GETTR, and the platform has reportedly begun to suspend some of these users as well. His first post on GETTR read, “Shalom Groypers, time to violate TOS [terms of service].” As is the case on other alternative platforms, GETTR is discovering that it’s tough to draw lines for what does and doesn’t count as “free speech” on the site. Anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election are also gaining traction on GETTR.
Just weeks after its launch, the pro-Trump social network GETTR is inundated with terrorist propaganda spread by supporters of Islamic State, according to a POLITICO review of online activity on the fledgling platform.
The social network — started a month ago by members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle — features reams of jihadi-related material, 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.
The rapid proliferation of such material is placing GETTR in the awkward position of providing a safe haven for jihadi extremists online as it attempts to establish itself as a free speech MAGA-alternative to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It underscores the challenges facing Trump and his followers in the wake of his ban from the mainstream social media platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.
Islamic State “has been very quick to exploit GETTR,” said Moustafa Ayad, executive director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism, who first discovered the jihadi accounts and shared his findings with POLITICO.
“On Facebook, there was on one of these accounts that I follow that is known to be Islamic State, which said ‘Oh, Trump announced his new platform. Inshallah, all the mujahideen will exploit that platform,’” he added. “The next day, there were at least 15 accounts on GETTR that were Islamic State.”
While GETTR does not provide access to its data to track the spread, or virality, of such extremist material on its platform, POLITICO found at least 250 accounts that had posted regularly on the platform since early July. Many followed each other, and used hashtags to promote the jihadi material to this burgeoning online community.
In the months since he was kicked off Twitter and suspended from Facebook, Trump has sought alternative ways to engage with his base online. While his supporters decamped to other online venues — including the social network Parler, where they could express themselves without facing increased scrutiny — Trump’s own effort to create an internet bullhorn has stalled.
In May, he launched a blog — titled “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” — but it was taken down just w
In a new statement that he would have posted on Twitter himself if his account was not permanently suspended for inciting violence, former President Donald Trump urged his supporters not to vote in the two upcoming elections if the Republican Party does not “solve” the supposed voter fraud that he has falsely claimed precipitated his loss to President Joe Biden.
“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump declared. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”
After prominent Trump supporters similarly told Georgia Republicans to sit out the two runoffs in that state late last year, calling it “another rigged election,” voters ended up giving Democrats control of the Senate.
Trump has continued to push his baseless claims that the election he lost to President Joe Biden was rigged despite no evidence confirming this 11 months since the vote took place.
In a statement on Wednesday, Trump made the confusing threat that his supporters should not vote in the two upcoming elections unless the GOP can fix the baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
"If we don't solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in '22 or '24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do," he said.
The statement was widely shared in a number of MAGA (Make America Great Again) and QAnon-linked channels on messaging service app Telegram, where users still believe Trump will somehow be reinstated back into the White House even if he doesn't intend to run in 2024 when the false cries of voter fraud are proven.
In reply, a number of people criticized Trump for telling his supporters not to vote in the upcoming elections, which they say would essentially pave the way for an easy victory for the Democrats.
"If we all just 'don't vote' then we have no chance in HELL and have no room to complain about what comes after," Telegram user April wrote. "That is just playing right into their hands. They want us to give up! We must ALL vote!!"
Another made reference to the QAnon belief that there exists a secret cabal of satanic pedophiles in the Democratic Party while asking why people wouldn't vote.
"But what happens if we don't vote? Does the evil cabal remain in power forever? Do they just appoint more of the same?? What???" asked Marge Bowser.
Telegram user Ogit Zeri added: "Not voting is not just what Marxists want, It's also stupid no matter how rigged the system is."
Others also criticized Trump directly, with the conspiracy theorists seemingly frustrated by the former president's failure to stop the alleged fraud from having taken place in the first place as well as by a fading likelihood that he will return as president.
"He should of did something when he had the chance. If I ever vote again I'm voting democrat just to twist the knife," wrote Mike Wiley.
Fellow Telegram user Greta Haakenson added: "Just STOP already, Trump. We've known this for years! You're preaching to the choir. You're making us crazy. Put up or shut up!!!! Either walk away to your comfortable lifestyle OR effing get your ass back in office. One or the other! Venting on us is causing your supporters to go insane!!!"
However, others did agree with Trump and said they would not be voting in any major future elections out of concerns about voter fraud.
"Precisely, and I've told my elected officials same thing. Never voting again, as long as machines are involved," one Telegram user, Dan, wrote.
"What's the point of voting if they cheat. Look what we got in office, unelected people enforcing the global agenda," added another user.
The statement from Trump is similar to a remark made by controversial pro-Trump attorney and influential QAnon figure Lin Wood ahead of the 2020 Georgia runoffs in which he told people not to vote for Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue because of unsubstantiated fraud claims.
"They have not earned your vote," Wood told the crowd at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Georgia in December 2020. "Don't you give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election for god's sake! Fix it! You gotta fix it!"
Loeffler and Perdue ended up losing to Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, giving the Democrats control of the Senate.