It Appears That Jason Miller's GETTR Is Speed Running The Content Moderation Learning Curve Faster Than Parler
from the a-new-record dept
You may recall that last summer, we mocked how Parler was speed running the content moderation learning curve. It seems that every year a new social media service pops up, insisting that it believes in “free speech” and won’t “censor” anything. And then… reality hits. And it realizes that if you do no moderation at all, your website is a total and complete garbage dump full of spam, porn, harassment, abuse and trolling. And just as Parler learned it needed to do some moderation (and its then CEO even bragged about kicking off “leftist trolls”), every new platform learns the same damn thing eventually. Though, amusingly, it seems to happen faster and faster each time.
We already wrote about GETTR, the “new Parler” for Trump fans, which also claims to be “free speech” supporting, even as it’s funded by a “mysterious Chinese billionaire” who is known for suing news organizations for reporting he disagrees with (which doesn’t seem very free speechy). Indeed, his lawsuits were so clearly SLAPP suits that in the dismissal of the case against CNN (one of many of the lawsuits), the judge noted:
Here, plaintiff fails to even allege that the defendants’ statements… are an inaccurate depiction of the counterclaim…
Again, not exactly the kind of “1st Amendment” supporting person I’d put behind my free speech site, but what do I know?
In the meantime, GETTR has been doing the whole speed run thing at a faster pace than Parler before it. There were reports that the site was quickly filling up with “Sonic the Hedgehog furry porn” and My Little Pony porn alongside… um… “pictures of old men in their underpants.”
And thus, Jason Miller discovered that it’s all nice and good to say anything goes on your “free speech” supporting website, until reality shows up. Reality has a nice way of destroying the myth that no moderation is a reasonable stance.
Even more fun, Tim Miller (I am pretty sure no relation to Jason) from The Bulwark, stepped in to explore the world that is GETTR and it’s an amazing read. It kicks off with a clear explanation of why every site needs to do some level of housecleaning, lest it end up being filled with junk (including pictures of men’s junk). Miller set up an account named @PayChildSupport. And he discovered that GETTR has a content moderation problem.
For starters, Gettr?s verification system is a mess because the platform hasn?t figured out how to resolve the tension between freedom of speech and the freedom to spoof. Which is to say, if you?re a Newsmax anchor, you can get a special red Verrit V, meaning that you are who you say you are. Other accounts are stuck with a black V that I could not determine the significance of. Still other accounts display a homemade checkmark.
And the pranksters got me! My very first brand follow?@SonicFastFood?was not a representative of America?s heritage of innovative and tasty drive-in cuisine, but rather a digital gathering space for furry porn. Of which there is a lot on Gettr.
Look, that?s not my bag of beans but no judgment. If MAGAs are into that sort of thing, that?s cool. But let me just say that during my first day on Gettr I didn?t come across a single substantive exchange of ideas?but I was exposed to a very great deal of Sonic the Hedgehog erotica. What a world.
He goes into a lot more detail (perhaps more than you might reasonably need), but on the whole, about what you’d expect:
Taken as a whole, my Gettr newsfeed was a mash-up of catfishes and spoofs, conspiratorial craziness from real-life right-wingers, racial slurs from anonymous Nazi accounts, and pornographic trolling from (I assume) bored libs. The Algonquin Round Table this is not. The marketplace of ideas was barren.
But hey, it?s the internet, new sites with dumbass trolls and nutty power users are a dime a dozen. The most revealing part of the Gettr experience wasn?t what was on the platform?but what wasn?t.
Because it turns out that this cesspool would have been even worse if not for the fact that Jason Miller was doing exactly the same thing that Facebook and Twitter and all the other Big Bad Tech Oligarchs do: moderating his site?s content in order to provide a more usable product for his audience.
Yes, as expected, Miller and GETTR very quickly started banning accounts, rather than living up to what they claimed were their ideals of a moderation free website. Apparently, it’s “okay” to moderate when its content you don’t like. And it’s not okay to moderate when it’s content you like. The fact that “you” is a very subjective “you” seems to be lost on the supporters of GETTR and others who believe that no moderation is some sort of even remotely possible ideal.
As (Tim) Miller notes:
Funny how the entire premise behind these ?free speech? platforms?and the GOP policies targeting tech censorship and the endless faux outrage on cable news?is negated the minute the complainers are put in charge.
Because what these people inevitably find is that there?s no lib cabal targeting them. No grand conspiracy of Silicon Valley billionaire bros.
Instead the founders of Gettr have been crushed by the same banal challenge that every neckbeard site admin and anxiety-riddled Zoomer slaving away at the dystopian Facebook content-moderation farm has confronted from the moment the internet birthed this vast catch basin of human knowledge and obscenity and allowed people to post on it anonymously. The problem is the users. You can?t live with ?em. But you can?t live without ?em.
There’s a lot more in Miller’s piece, which should be required reading for anyone who insists it makes sense (or is even possible) to run any internet forum online without some level of moderation.
Oh, and of course, you know how all this ends? With GETTR banning Tim Miller:
? BREAKING NEWS: I have been banned from Gettr. This is an unconscionable assault on my speech rights in the public square.
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 10, 2021
I’m having trouble seeing how anything Tim wrote violated any of GETTR’s policies — and it sure as hell looks like Jason Miller kicked Tim Miller off GETTR because he just didn’t like what he had to say. This is something that Twitter and other social media companies don’t actually do. They actually do have policies in place, and don’t remove people unless they can show a policy that was violated. In other words, GETTR didn’t just speed run the content moderation learning curve (while claiming otherwise), it appears to be more aggressive and more willing to ban people for simply stating things that GETTR management doesn’t like.