Can Gettr become Trump’s GOP online gathering place?
If you are unfamiliar with Gettr, the conservative social media app, you can be forgiven. His most notable moment was when the site was hacked on the day it launched: July 4, 2021. Since then he has been working in relative anonymity, working hard to be the free speech alternative to Twitter, or the “Twitter killer,” in the words of Steve Bannon, a frequent Gettr poster.
But the company just had a successful week, report seven hundred thousand new users on the site. After Twitter banned both the personal accounts of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Robert Malone, a prominent conservative media doctor, for spreading false information about vaccines, Joe Rogan joined Gettr. “Just in case the shit on Twitter gets even dumber,” Rogan wrote. “I’m here too now. The masses took note.
Before Christmas, I met Gettr CEO Jason Miller, a savvy veteran of Trump’s two presidential campaigns. As the senior communications advisor for the 2016 campaign, Miller impregnated a coworker while his own wife was pregnant. Days before the 2020 election, he claimed Democrats “will try to get him back.” On January 6, he reportedly wrote a pair of tweets for Trump, claiming that “the false media” “were trying to blame the peaceful and innocent supporters of MAGA for violent actions.” One of the drafts, which was never published, said, “Our people should go home and let the criminals suffer the consequences!” (Miller, who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee, told me, “My lawyers are talking to them.”) I had hoped to meet him at his firm’s offices in Columbus Circle, where “a few dozens ”of people are working. Miller said, but Omicron’s push has put the brakes on those plans. Instead, we met in the shed outside of a cafe. Beforehand, a Gettr spokesperson assured me – without being invited – that Miller, who arrived with a KN95 mask, was vaccinated and boosted.
After a little chat about DC (Miller travels to New York a few days a week from his Arlington, VA home), our conversation turned to Trump. In October 2021, Trump announced he would be launching Truth Social, another Twitter alternative that is part of his larger and as yet undefined media project, Trump Media & Technology Group. Devin Nunes left Congress in January to become the company’s CEO, a move that was announced shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it was investigating the project for potential violations. It’s still unclear if Trump’s efforts will progress beyond the slides promising some guys named ‘Josh A.’ and “Billy B.” will lead the ship, but Miller finds himself in a sticky situation: his business rival is the most powerful figure in Republican politics and, basically, the Godzilla of social media. Miller assured me everything was rosy with Trump – the two had spoken just the day before – and noted that the former president will need a working social media platform if he decides to run in 2024. “If his platform takes longer to develop, I wouldn’t completely rule out him joining Gettr,” Miller said. “And, even when he launches his own, I wouldn’t rule out that he also creates a Gettr account.”
Miller told me he made Trump an offer with “a whole bunch of zeros”, apparently nine digits, to join Gettr, but no dice. In early December, Miller sold the app to congressional staff in Washington and got a few signups, though Twitter is a tough habit to break. (Miller has a staff member whose work is dedicated to listing “Capitol Hill and GOP influencers.”) When we spoke, Miller had just returned from a trip to Paris, where he courted the nominee. far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, and he had upcoming trips planned to India and Brazil, where, largely due to the use of the app by Jair Bolsonaro and Bolsonaro’s sons, nearly 15% of Gettr users are now resident. Its global recruiting program is expected to include Brazilian country singers, Indian cricketers and Japanese sumo wrestlers.
Miller wouldn’t officially talk about specific pop culture figures getting Gettr’s beautiful speech, but he did mention that former “Mandalorian” and Mixed Martial Arts star Gina Carano has an account. An advertisement promoting registrations to Gettr featured a photo of actress Dakota Johnson and her words, “Cancellation culture is a fucking depressing”, while another cited Kim Kardashian has a similar effect. Neither Johnson nor Kardashian has an account, but Enes Kanter Freedom, NBA center and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, certainly does.
Gettr is, for the most part, short of recognizable names, although a few, such as Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard, have joined the site in the past two days. Private messages are not yet available. (Miller told me they were coming this year.) And, while Mike Pompeo, Sean Hannity, and Dinesh D’Souza have accounts, if you’re not immersed in the conservative world of social media, you won’t. may not know. who are many verified users of Gettr. @ Jamierodr14, a “proud mother, retired military veteran for President Trump!” Has over one hundred and eighty-eight thousand subscribers, but you couldn’t otherwise discern what deserved the official Gettr “V” at the top of his account. The same goes for verified users like @ Clinton614 (“weapons and special tactics operator”) and @ KellyCurrie45 (“Married! Fight for real elections! TRUMP WON! Freedom from Communism! Jesus is Lord! ?? Come on Brandon 💯 “). Verified users have all been contacted directly by the Gettr team or their verified status on other platforms is transferred to Gettr. Miller said a formal verification policy will be released shortly.
So far, the site has been where Twitter’s “responders” have finally come together as the main characters. That’s why Rogan’s news sparked such excitement in the Gettr verse – it could use a bit more star power, especially from one who likes to jump into the fray. The famous internet guys on the site don’t seem to really engage with each other – you won’t get the right-wing equivalent of David Shor and Justice Democrats arguing over the intricacies of coalition politics. – and a lot of the big name feeds are just cross-posts from Twitter. As they all seem to agree with each other quite a bit – anti-mask, pro-Trump – there isn’t much to say after a while. “People are just a lot more respectful. It’s a pleasant experience, ”Miller said. The “respectful” environment is in the eye of the beholder. Earlier in December, Miller posted a cartoon of a Christmas elf hanging from a noose behind Hillary Clinton; it seemed to be an allusion to Jeffrey Epstein. ” It’s the season ! ” he wrote.
Gettr is part of a conservative niche media ecosystem that could experience a banner year in 2022. Gettr, Parler, Rumble and Gab – every beloved app on the right – has had its moment in the spotlight. But the mid-terms are coming, then the 2024 campaign will accelerate. As Big Tech tackles COVID-19 and electoral disinformation, sites with more permissive publication rules could be attractive to right-wing figures. It may just be a question of who becomes the must-see gathering place.
Parler, which debuted in 2018, claimed it has twenty million users, far more than Gettr, which has only around four million. Speak was effectively taken offline following the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, when Amazon Web Services stopped hosting the site. He has since found a new host and tried to recalibrate himself. In February, the site’s founding investor, GOP megadonator Rebekah Mercer, fired the CEO of Parler, who later claimed he was kicked out after pleading for tighter moderation of content around QAnon and posts. neo-Nazis. Mercer has since hired George Farmer, the son of a Tory peer who was educated in Oxford – and husband of Tory commentator and Cardi B Twitter-beefer Candace Owens – to run the site. Parler returned to the Apple App Store in May. This winter, the company announced $ 20 million in new financing; in January, Farmer told Kara Swisher he was not worried about the new influx of big names from Gettr. (Recently, Melania Trump started an NFT project in partnership with Speak. But really, who knows how to analyze this?)