The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: gettr

Trumpist Platform GETTR Delivers Terrorism, Furry Porn, And A Massive Security Breach

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

If there's anything that right-wing chat platforms promising uncensored "free speech" like Gab and Parler have proven, it's that such predicates ensure the platforms will quickly be inundated with the worst people in the world—bigots spewing death threats, hatemongers, disinformation artists, conspiracy theorists, vile misogynists, and terrorists of all stripes. The kind of clients that will doom such networks to permanent deplatforming.

The same fate has predictably befallen GETTR, Donald Trump acolyte Jason Miller's social-media app launched last month to right-wing hurrahs. After stumbling through multiple hacks indicating the site's cybersecurity was paltry, it is now besieged by Islamic State terrorists posting propaganda—including memes urging Trump's execution and graphic beheading videos, Politico reports.

Islamic State "has been very quick to exploit GETTR," Moustafa Ayad, executive director for Africa, the Middle East, and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, told Politico's Mark Scott and Tina Nyugen. "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."

Islamic State celebrated their successful infiltration of the pro-Trump platform: "We will come at you with slaying and explosions you worshippers of the cross," wrote one pro-ISIS account. "How great is freedom of expression."

Miller dismissed the flood of ISIS sympathizers as "keyboard warriors hiding in caves and eating dirt cookies." He also claimed that GETTR's content moderation was effective.

"ISIS is trying to attack the MAGA movement because President Trump wiped them off the face of the earth, destroying the Caliphate in less than 18 months, and the only ISIS members still alive are keyboard warriors hiding in caves and eating dirt cookies," Miller said in a statement. "Buried beneath a misleading and inflammatory headline, however, even Politico acknowledges GETTR has a robust and proactive moderation system that removes prohibited content, maximizing both cutting-edge A.I. technology and human moderation."

In fact, Politico reported that four days after it had submitted its queries to GETTR about the Islamic State posts, "many of these accounts and videos are still up."

When Miller launched GETTR early in July, it was advertised as "a non-bias social network for people all over the world" and boasted that it was "the marketplace of ideas." (It also shortly emerged that Miller had obtained seed money for the venture from rogue Chinese investor Guo Wengui.) Trump himself declined to sign up.

However, a number of prominent Republicans—nearly all of them from the pro-Trump camp—did. These included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York, as well as Congressmen Jim Jordan of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lee Zeldin of New York, James Lankford of Oklahoma, ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Many of these figures shortly had reason to regret doing so: Over the weekend of its initial launch, a hacker successfully compromised a number of official GETTR accounts—including those belonging to Taylor Greene, Pompeo, Bannon, and Miller. The hacker told reporters it had taken him only about 20 minutes to successfully break in.

Hackers leveraged GETTR's API to scrape the email addresses of more than 85,000 users, including usernames, names and birthdays.

"When threat actors are able to extract sensitive information due to neglectful API implementations, the consequence is equivalent to a data breach and should be handled accordingly by the firm [and] examined by regulators," Alon Gal, the co-founder of cybersecurity firm Hudson Rock who reported the dataset, told TechCrunch.

Miller scoffed. "You know you're shaking things up when they come after you," he told Insider. "The problem was detected and sealed in a matter of minutes, and all the intruder was able to accomplish was to change a few user names. The situation has been rectified and we've already had more than half a million users sign up for our exciting new platform!"

The problems continued to mount, however. GETTR was also flooded with porn featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and hundreds of other accounts featuring hentai, furry porn, and stock photos of pudgy men in their underwear.

Casey Newton at The Verge notes that these right-wing "free speech" apps almost appear to be set up with the intention to make them fail. "Apps like Parler and GETTR offered their conservative users an attractive mirage: a free-speech paradise where they could say the things they couldn't say elsewhere," he writes. "It never seemed to occur to anyone that such a move would only select for the worst social media customers on earth, quickly turning the founders' dreams to ash."

Miller's claims notwithstanding, GETTR's content moderation is clearly unable to handle the kind of content it is guaranteed to attract. As Newton observes: "Most people will only spend so long in a virtual space in which they are surrounded by the worst of humanity."

Moreover, these social-media apps appear to be a kind of con job not intended necessarily to enrich its founders but to promote a right-wing narrative that is itself part of a larger grift.

As Ryan Broderick at Garbage Day put it:

I'm also beginning to wonder if all these apps are their own grift in a way. Loudly launch a site no one will ever use, claim it's a free speech sanctuary for Republicans, do the rounds on all the right-wing news outlets, and wait for it to fill up with the worst people on Earth, refuse to moderate it, wait for Apple to ban it from the App Store, and then go back to the right-wing news outlets and screech about liberal cancel culture impacting your ability to share hentai with white nationalist flat earthers or whatever.

Pro-Trump GETTR Becoming 'Safe Haven' For Terrorist Propaganda

Just weeks after former President Trump's team quietly launched the alternative to "social media monopolies," GETTR is being used to promote terrorist propaganda from supporters of the Islamic State, a Politico analysis found.

The publication reports that the jihadi-related material circulating on the social platform includes "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."

Politico found at least 250 such regular users since early July, most of which follow each other and use hashtags to promote the jihadi material.

The Islamic State "has been very quick to exploit GETTR," Moustafa Ayad, executive director at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, told Politico, adding, "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.'"

Politico describes the accumulation of terrorist propaganda as "rapid" and called GETTR a "safe haven" for jihadi extremists online, putting the new MAGA alternative to prominent social media apps, like Twitter and Facebook, in an "awkward" position.

Jason Miller, former Trump spokesperson and the CEO of GETTR, dismissed the spike in extremist content, saying, "ISIS is trying to attack the MAGA movement because President Trump wiped them off the face of the earth, destroying the Caliphate in less than 18 months, and the only ISIS members still alive are keyboard warriors hiding in caves and eating dirt cookies."

Miller also flooded his Twitter feed with links to stories that investigate Twitter's problems with ISIS:

According to Politico, however, Twitter works with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, so that the extremist-related material can be taken down as quickly as possible. GETTR has not yet signed up -- but Politico does note that some jihadi posts were eventually taken down on.

"Buried beneath a misleading and inflammatory headline…even Politico acknowledges GETTR has a robust & proactive moderation system that removes prohibited content, maximizing…A.I. technology and human moderation," said Miller.

Since being kicked off of Twitter and Facebook for inciting a deadly insurrection, Trump has been trying to find new ways to interact with his supporters-- none of which have been particularly successful.

Back in May, he launched a blog called "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump" that he tried to pass off as a social "platform." The site ultimately failed weeks later due to ridicule and poor readership.

Trump's involvement in GETTR is unknown and he has yet to officially sign up for the platform, but the "true marketplace of ideas" has many links to the former president. In addition to Miller's involvement, Miles Guo, the business partner of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, is also partially funding GETTR.

Politico's findings further outline the grave dangers that social sites with little to no regulation pose.

"We will come at you with slaying and explosions you worshippers of the cross," wrote an account whose name referenced ISIS. "How great is freedom of expression."