Will Trump’s Startup Follow Big Tech’s Rules? Other conservative apps do

Jason Miller doesn’t mind a little competition from his former boss.

ONE old advisor With then-President Donald Trump, Miller is the CEO of Gettr, a Twitter-like social media platform that has gained momentum in recent months after an uneventful start last July. In the first 10 days of 2022, an estimated 700,000 users downloaded the “free speech” app, according to Sensor Tower data, after podcaster Joe Rogan announced that he would created a profile on the platform.

That growth has made Gettr one of the most successful entrants in a new category of social media platform targeting Republicans that has gained traction in recent years. And with Trump’s much-anticipated social media platform, Social Truthslated to launch in February, Miller said he expects growth to accelerate – and possibly beyond conservatives, though the app has added another “freedom of speech” space to the market. mixture.

Miller said of Trump’s upcoming app: “I think anything that helps pull more people off the sidelines and back into these alternative social media platforms will only make us all better off.” should be bigger and better.

“I tell my Democratic friends all the time, it’s a matter of when, not if, the pendulum swings the other way, and you have reason to be upset with Big Tech,” he said. added.

Gettr, like Parler, Rumble and other conservative-friendly tech platforms, born of the backlash targeting Facebook and Twitter, takes an increasingly active role in fighting misinformation and extremist rhetoric on their platforms – efforts have accelerated during the epidemic. Twitter and Facebook once banned Trump in 2021, even though Facebook has leave the door open to return his can.

That gave the impetus for new social media platforms to step in, openly espousing free speech principles and see themselves as alternatives to Big Tech. And while those principles remain at the heart of these platforms, they’re also up against the challenging realities of running tech companies.

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, walks the Capitol during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate on February 9, 2021. Andrew Harnik / Pool via AP

Big Tech has learned that giving up attitude can only go far. And the reality of the Internet means that even alternative apps often have to play ball with Big Tech while also finding the line between what is and isn’t acceptable on their platforms.

“I think that even for apps that frame themselves as free speech apps, they quickly realize it,” said Emma Llansó, Director of the Freedom of Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology. that they must have a content policy. “They must have some set of rules or standards, standards or ideas about what they will and will not allow on their service, because eventually they will face a lot of questions like major types of social media companies. face to face.”

In the shadow of Big Tech

Gettr’s early days were messy.

Launching in the summer of 2021, it offers a similar experience to Twitter. But with a little negligence, it was quick filled with pornography and other objectionable content.

Since then, Gettr has been trying to clean up its platform. While still promoting an anti-censorship message in its marketing, Gettr uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human censorship – like Facebook and Twitter – to enforce its policies. , which one is forbidden? “Illegal, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, libelous, indecent, vulgar, obscene, sexually suggestive, racist, nationalistic or otherwise objectionable material have a cold.” Miller said the platform takes a strong stance against hate speech and defamation. However, it has faced some difficulties in enforcing those policies.

Gettr’s challenges aren’t particularly different from those faced by Facebook and Twitter. From the very beginning they also sought to take a gentle approach to moderation, allowing extremist groups to flourish and wrong information for wide dissemination.

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Now, strong platform censorship is a prerequisite, even for platforms that see themselves as the basis of free speech. Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes told Fox Business that it will use automated platform moderation through third-party company Hive to create a “family-friendly” atmosphere.

“We want this to be a very safe place, and we’re focused on making sure any illegal content isn’t on the site,” he said. According to Fox Business, Hive provides moderation services to major tech platforms like Reddit, Giphy, and OnlyFans.

Censorship is, in some ways, not optional for social media companies operating within the broader confines of smartphone apps.

In 2020, Parler, which is also a Twitter-like “free speech” platform, takes the top spot of both apps. store after the presidential election. But with little surveillance, extremists swarmed the platform. Apple remove Parler from its app store last January after Apple said Parler failed to moderate dangerous content. The app was used to organization January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.

Parler is now back up and running after strengthening its platform moderation mechanisms. It has grown to about 13 million users, according to one Stanford University estimates this month. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Censorship isn’t the only method conservative platforms have adopted since Big Tech – or where they overlap.

For all the hard talk about being an alternative to the big tech platforms, Gettr was recently criticized in the tech news. Talk of Liberation to include Google and Facebook trackers on their platforms, providing user data to those companies for advertising purposes, which Miller says is intended to “improve the user experience.”

Gettr also directly paid Facebook $81,848 to buy ads, according to Facebook’s Ad Library.

Miller says that apps like his still stand out in the social media space because their aim is to treat users equally.

“Big Tech platforms use political discrimination to choose winners and losers in free speech debates, despite little evidence of politically motivated censorship,” Miller said. such from big tech companies.

Llansó says that while the major social platforms may offer their own research or data to put those stories to bed, they are mostly choosing privacy, which she believes opens up doors for alternative applications. “When people don’t trust a Big Tech company and what they’re doing with people’s speech, the internet still offers this opportunity to try to make your own.”

How conservative platforms can change politics

Regardless of intent, Gettr and Parler are dominated by conservative discourse, a fact that has been acknowledged by Miller and reflected in data analyzed by iDRAMA Lab, a group of researchers researched the conservative space online.

According to iDRAMA’s January 2022 research from Pujan Paudel provided exclusively to NBC, the top word used in the Gettr profile is “Trump”, followed by “patriot” and the hashtag # the top used in the profile is “MAGA” followed by “TrumpWon”. On Parler, the majority of the platform’s most-followed accounts are right-leaning influencers or news sources, according to one Stanford University analysis.

Given the prevalence of conservative content on apps like Parler and Gettr, some have suggested that alternative apps could serve as conservative echo chambers or even new spaces for extremism develops.

Jeremy Blackburn, co-founder of the iDAMA lab and an assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York, says alternative social spaces typically have a higher concentration of extreme content. .

“We see more than what most people would consider conspiracy, far-right content,” Blackburn said of conservative platforms. In the Gettr data provided by Blackburn’s research team, his team found that the use of voices they encode was a higher level of inflammation than is typically found on Twitter.

Even so, some experts say there may be less obvious consequences of alternative apps.

Llansó suggests that a more similar user base, like on Gettr or Parler, can lead to more productive conversations between conservatives, because they meet on shared terms.

“When you have an online community of more like-minded people, whether from the same demographic or just all of them there to talk about the same things that they really care about, that has the effect of creating and maintaining rules of communication which, in some ways, makes the presenter’s job, the platform’s job, a lot easier,” said Llansó.

Christopher Bail, a professor at Duke University who studies political polarization and wrote “Breaking the prism of social media,” says the existence of alternative apps can really isolate and prevent the spread of extremist content.

“One possibility is that these sites, while they will appeal to some people with particularly extreme views, may also prevent some of those views from receiving the kind of impressions they might otherwise get on the Internet. larger platforms like Twitter or Facebook,” he said.

An analysis by the Washington Post found that the following numbers of many conservative influencers had stagnated after their initial growth spurt when they joined conservative platforms.

But for now, Trump’s Gettr and Truth Social are working overtime to attract and retain internet creators. Based on AxiosTruth Social has been reaching out to influencers from across the political spectrum to try to attract them to the platform.

Miller excitedly tried to attract big names on Twitter and when Joe Rogan Exploding Gettr on his show after he joined because he felt the app misrepresented his follower count, Miller reached out to try to fix things.

“He’s a pretty straightforward shooter,” Miller said. “I’m glad they gave me the opportunity to show some things to help understand and look forward to continuing to be a user on this platform.”

Rogan has not posted to the platform since the incident.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/gettr-truth-jason-miller-trump-social-media-goggin-abbruzesse-rcna11805 Will Trump’s Startup Follow Big Tech’s Rules? Other conservative apps do

Jake Nichol

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