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The Gettr Grift

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Andrew Torba

1,681 words

Nothing has given me more respect for the social media site Gab than watching other people try to do what Andrew Torba has done.

For many years, Gab was sort of a joke. Its reputation was as a cesspool of the Alt Right’s most socially dysfunctional elements — people who had not only been banned from every other social media site (back when getting banned required a lot more effort) but also from most White Nationalist message boards for being too spergy.

In 2018, Robert Bowers did Gab no favors when he pogromed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers’ final social media post, including the iconic phrase “Screw your optics, I’m going in,” was broadcast to the world on Gab. To make matters worse, the same day, one of Bowers’ friends on Gab, Edward William Clark, killed himself [2]. Then Clark’s brother started sperging out to his grieving parents about race war, and how Bowers’ act had been noble and justified — until they called the police on their own son.

If those were the kind of people on Gab, it seemed better to just start a new Twitter account every six months after being banned than to move over to that dumpster fire. Besides, all the people on Gab were already redpilled, so you weren’t going to win any new converts there. It seemed as though Gab’s only utility was as a quarantined playpen for the most antisocial spergs, thus keeping them out of our hair.

Gab is not quite so bad nowadays. First, more mainstream people have migrated there after being banned elsewhere, and they’ve brought over some of their bluepilled fans, so it’s no longer pointless to attempt outreach there. Second, Twitter has started cracking down on alt accounts more aggressively, causing some to bite the bullet and make Gab their main social media spot.

But for a while, Gab seemed to be a well-intentioned mess. There were tech problems, legal problems, and frequent fedposting. Torba’s heart was in the right place, but at times he seemed in way over his head. But surely, eventually someone with more money and technical acumen would come along. They’d be able to learn from Torba’s mistakes and do something similar, but better.

Fast-forward a few years and we have indeed seen some other attempts at building a Twitter alternative, and every day Gab looks better and better. For all its flaws, Gab’s saving grace is that it actually does what it claims: It says it is a free speech platform, and it is a free speech platform. Looking at these new “Right-wing Twitter alternatives,” none of them appear to have any intention of actually standing by free speech in any meaningful way.

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You can buy Greg Johnson’s The Year America Died here. [4]

You can forget about a new free speech platform coming from Donald Trump. Torba has recounted how Trump’s people reached out to him and said that Torba would have to change Gab’s terms of service to ban anti-Semitism if he wanted Trump to make Gab his new home base. Torba declined. It is also known that alt tech site Rumble changed its terms of service to ban anti-Semitism mere days before Trump’s endorsement of the site.

Trump has announced his own social media site, Truth Social, which is supposed to be launching in February [5], but given recent history, I think we all know what we can expect it to be like, and it is nothing to get one’s hopes up for.

The latest letdown comes in the form of Gettr, a new social media platform created by people formerly associated with the Trump administration: communications director Jason Miller and strategist Steve Bannon. It is being funded by a foreign national, Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui [6], a shady character who is in mountains of legal trouble on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Wengui apparently has a big hate hard-on for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and I presume he believes Gettr can be a mouthpiece to wage his crusade.

Who knows? Perhaps someone from China, where they have no free speech, will have a greater appreciation of how precious free speech is, and will thus lead by example. I mean, how hypocritical would a guy have to be to criticize China for their censorship and yet not practice free speech on his own site?

Nonetheless, last month Gettr banned Nick Fuentes’ account without warning. In the weeks since, getting answers for why they did this has been like pulling teeth. First they claimed that Fuentes had violated their terms of service, which was bizarre considering that Fuentes insists that he had not even posted on the site; he had merely created an account. Even liberal outlets like The Daily Beast have been pointing out the hypocrisy [7].

Gettr’s perspective was cleared up [10] when Jason Miller appeared on Steve Bannon’s livestream show (note the Chinese subtitles).

Bannon: You talk about people wanting to debate, but how are you going to avoid those enemies of the MAGA movement globally, the CCP but also here in the US? They are going to try to load up with hate speech and white supremacism and all that. How are you going to moderate that?

Miller: Yeah, and we’ve already seen a little bit of that yesterday (referring to a groyper raid). So we have both an AI component and a human moderation component.

That’s a real “four legs good, two legs better” moment. Anyone who says anything the liberal establishment doesn’t like on Twitter is a Russian bot, and now anyone who says anything the conservative establishment doesn’t like is a Chinese bot.

In another livestream interview, Miller elaborated:

Host: So what is your kind of ethos for Gettr? Is it basically that as long as you don’t incite violence, you can pretty much say anything you want? That’s what freedom of speech is all about.

Miller: Well, I would say that our North Star, kind of our guiding message here is that Gettr is about free speech and it’s about opposing cancel culture. And if you believe in those two things, then you are the perfect person to have a Gettr account. But we do have moderation. That’s what separates us from the platforms that have been unsuccessful in the past, and what I mean by that is you have to have the ability to make sure people aren’t on there suggesting illegal activity.

Host: Of course.

Miller: Racial or religious epithets. But your political free speech and your ability to say what you think about these lockdowns, what you think about mandates, what you think about the regular issues coming up in your life, whether it be the migration issues in the UK where people come over in boats and such . . .

The story got even more absurd a short time later when Gettr banned the word “groyper” — not only so that you can’t have it in your screen name, but even if you try to make a post with the word “groyper” in it, which now will give you an error message. It’s therefore false to claim that they only censor in relation to racial slurs. Not only can you not be a groyper on Gettr, you can’t even talk about them — not even to say “groypers suck.”

Elijah Schaffer has done some good investigative reporting [15] on this:

I am becoming suspicious of @GETTRofficial as I reached out to them regarding the banning (w/out explanation) of a prominent, controversial user. They said he violated their TOS but won’t respond to my inquiry of what in their TOS he violated or what post violated it. I reached out to the banned individual, Nicholas Fuentes, for comment. He said there was no specific post or reason given, just banned w/out explanation just like Twitter does. With financing being from China and similar banning practices to Twitter, I’m not convinced atm. My inquiry was extremely professional and predicated on the basis that the public deserves the right to know @GETTRofficial’s threshold for banning users. Largely in part due to their users joining to avoid the very censorship practices they appear to be implementing.

After some arm-twisting, Schaffer got Gettr to admit that they can, do, and will ban people for things they say and do offsite. Least surprising at all, they at last confessed that Gettr will not be allowing “recruiting for White Nationalist causes.”

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Curiously, Schaffer claims that after he approached Gettr with these concerns, his own Gettr account was swiftly shadowbanned [17]. After asking Gettr why they had shadowed banned him, Gettr claimed that they lost his account [18] and had to give him a new one. There are some weird things going on there.

It is therefore clear that the Final Solution to the Free Speech Question will not come from the conservative establishment. I think it is also a sign that, now more than ever, the Dissident Right needs to throw its support behind Gab. A controlled opposition site like Gettr becoming the hegemonic Twitter alternative would make matters even worse for us than they are now.

Gab’s one big advantage over its emerging controlled opposition competitors is that we are already on Gab, and we are not going to be transferring over to these new ones. How much of an advantage that is for Gab is up to us.

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