Former President Donald Trump’s team quietly launched a new social media platform on Thursday, billing it as an alternative to Big Tech sites.
But the debut immediately ran into confusion about whether it was the former president’s long-promised bid to offer his legions of followers their own social media haven or merely the next attempt to build a MAGA-alternative to the main platforms.
The site, called GETTR, advertised its mission statement as “fighting cancel culture, promoting common sense, defending free speech, challenging social media monopolies, and creating a true marketplace of ideas.” The app is currently in beta form and will be officially launched on July 4 at 10a.m.
Trump’s former spokesman, Jason Miller, is leading the platform, he confirmed via text. Former Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh is involved as a consultant on the app.
Trump’s involvement with the project is unclear as is whether or not he will set up an account on GETTR and use it.
“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,” said a person involved with the app.
The former president has been looking for alternative ways to engage with his base online after having been booted off Twitter and suspended from Facebook. And his prior effort to engage online—through the launch of a professional blog—ended quickly amid widespread ridicule and poor readership. This new venture may also raise questions about privacy, including whether it harvests information about its users’ Twitter followers.
The GETTR app first went live on the Google and Apple app stores in mid-June and was most recently updated Wednesday. It’s been downloaded more than one thousand times on each.
A description for GETTR on the app stores calls it a “non-bias social network for people all over the world.” The app is rated “M” for mature, meaning it is recommended for users 17 and older.
The name GETTR was inspired by the words “Getting Together.” Posts will be 777 characters long, the app will host videos up to three minutes in length, and will also be capable of hosting livestreams, the person working on the app said. Headquarters for the app are located in New York.
GETTR’s user interface appears similar to that of Twitter. Initial promotional materials for GETTR on the app stores displayed posts of users celebrating the House of Representatives no longer requiring masks on the floor of the chamber.
Initial trending topics on the app included the hashtags “#trump,” “#virusorigin,” “#nra” and “#unrestrictedbioweapon.” Those tags refer to the newfound and still unproven refrain from Republicans that China created the Covid-19 virus in a lab as a bioweapon.
But the similarities with Twitter don’t end there. GETTR’s app also claims to offer new users the ability to “import copies of your content from Twitter to GETTR.” And evidence on the site indicates that the new platform is also allowing users to import their actual Twitter followers — who somehow end up with GETTR accounts of their own.
For example, Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania, had over 175,000 followers on GETTR as of Thursday afternoon, despite only joining the platform Thursday. His follower count on GETTR is identical to his follower count on Twitter.
The same goes for Murtaugh, Trump’s former 2020 communications director, who had amassed over 220,000 followers on both GETTR and Twitter as of Thursday afternoon.
“Tweets are up to the point you join, it won’t continuously suck them in. The idea is we want people to move from Twitter to Gettr,” said the person involved with the app. The person added that the app does not harvest the users current Twitter followers for the app, and again noted it is in Beta.
Twitter spokespeople declined to comment on whether GETTR violated any of its policies by allowing users to scrape data off its site. A representative for GETTR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Whether GETTR will succeed is dubious at best. Their last attempt to replicate his twitter feed, a site called “From The Desk of Donald Trump”, was widely derided as nothing more than a blog, barely received any web traffic, and shut down less than a month later.