GETTR, a new social media app helmed by former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, officially launched on July 4 to much fanfare, with more than 500,000 users creating accounts in just a few hours. The app was created in response to gratuitous censorship by Big Tech companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and promises not to censor users for their political opinions. Then president Donald Trump was notably banned from these platforms in the wake of the January 6 riot at the Capitol Building.
Miller told me during a phone interview the day before the launch that GETTR was ‘founded on the principles of free speech, independent thought and rejecting the political censorship and cancel culture that we’ve seen in US politics in the US media’. That doesn’t mean that the app is a free-for-all; it still has a robust content moderation policy that prohibits threats, harassment, racial or homophobic slurs, encouraging self-harm, and more. Punishments range from warnings to temporary suspensions to permanent bans, but all potential violations have to go through a tiered moderation system, which it seems would help prevent the kind of ‘human error’ that Twitter likes to blame when a conservative is unfairly censored on its platform. An AI tool flags questionable content, which is then escalated to a human review and, ultimately, an executive team that decides whether or not to remove something.
‘We make sure that we respect everybody’s freedom of speech, but…we’ve got to make sure that this is really a welcoming environment. That’s the type of type of platform we want to have,’ Miller said.
‘The main difference is that in other platforms, we’ve seen people be censored or removed from a platform based on political statements. And we’ve also seen the suppression of news stories. For example, when Twitter wouldn’t allow the sharing of the New York Post story about Hunter Biden, there was there was nothing bullying, harassing or threatening…or any of these things that that I think are really common sense policies. That was just pure political suppression. That is something that that we will never do and we’re going to strive to make sure that people can talk about their political beliefs and their statements.’
I signed up for GETTR on Monday morning, the day after the launch, and found it to be a relatively easy process. The same handle I use for my Twitter account was already reserved for me. I merely had to login to my Twitter account and verify my email address — then I was given the option to do a one-time import of all of my tweets. I have yet to encounter any bugs like the ones plaguing other potential replacements for the Big Tech oligarchy.
‘The app itself has been in development for upwards of a year,’ Miller explained. ‘A lot of the things that we’ve done is to make sure that we avoid some of these issues that have faced other social media platforms. Number one is to have a robust moderation policy on board from day one. The second is redundancies and backups at several different points, and then also being prepared to scale.’
GETTR was hacked for a short period of time on launch day, but Miller noted that the hackers were only able to change a few usernames before developers regained control. The ‘redundancies and backups’ are ‘key’, Miller explained, in order to make sure the app is always active. Parler, another anti-censorship social media app, was out of service for weeks after Amazon removed it from the AWS web hosting service. GETTR is also on AWS, but has other options immediately available in case Amazon makes the same play against them.
The app is clean and well-designed, lacking any confusing or poorly labeled features. There are just three main categories: Home, which functions as the user’s timeline where they can see content from people they follow, Search, which naturally has a search function and trending topics, and Account, where users can make view or make changes to their profile. Users can post content by navigating to Home and then pushing the red pen icon in the bottom right corner.
There are several features available on GETTR that may make it more enticing for content creators and politicians. Text posts can be as long as 777 characters, videos can be up to three minutes long, and videos can be edited directly in the app. GETTR will also eventually have livestreaming and direct messaging capabilities, as well as the ability for users to tip content creators or donate to political candidates with the touch of a button.
One of the biggest challenges facing a new social media platform is getting users across the political spectrum to join and participate in the conversation. Previous challengers to Big Tech have become right-wing echo chambers, which are a lot less fun than the ideologically diverse interactions that happen on Twitter and Facebook.
‘I think much of the the energy and the excitement for a new platform does come from the right of center because of what we’ve seen happen in the past election and earlier this year. But we do have pretty concerted efforts to to make sure we’re inviting people from all across the political spectrum to join. I’ll be adding some additional members to our team to help bring on folks with diverse viewpoints,’ Miller assured me.