I got a special present for you.
Oh, no, what? This is a MAGA hat.
Make America Gay Again? Is that what that is?
Hi, Jason. Thanks for being here.
Kara, great to be with you.
So I’ve been on Gettr quite a bit, and I want to talk about that. But let’s start off first talking about social media news. Marjorie Taylor Greene was recently kicked off Twitter for a week because she posted misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Rand Paul was booted from YouTube for posting a video with misinformation about masks. He said it was a badge of honor. She called Twitter “state-run social media.” It isn’t actually state-run in any way. I think they were ridiculous rule breakers on the platform and deserved to be kicked off for at least the short amount of time that they have these rules. But I’d love your take on what’s been going on there.
Yeah, I mean, each of these cases, I think, are unique and independent. But when it comes to the broader principles of what we’re trying to do with GETTR, really when we sat down to have one of the first conversations and said, number one, want to have a platform where people respect free speech. Secondly, want to have a platform where people reject this notion of cancel culture, which I think have really become far too prominent in all aspects of life, and I think it’s affecting people on the right, affecting people on the left. And the other aspect of it, too, is social media is not really fun anymore, and I want to try to bring some of that fun back to it.
Talk about their power, “their” being platforms. You tweet a lot about it, actually, their power. And I think there’s a whole sort of Republican line that these companies are an agent of the government, that they are actually conspiring against conservatives. And you know I think they’re too powerful, I just don’t think they’re doing what you’re saying they’re doing.
Well, and yeah, I want to start with one thing. Actually, when I was getting ready to launch Gettr, ran some market research, and this particular aspect that was focused on people who’d voted for President Trump and who followed President Trump on social media. And 40% of all people who voted for President Trump and 61% of people who actually followed President Trump on social media had followed somebody on social media not named President Trump who’d gotten deplatformed or censored or some other case. And so whether it’s the shadow banning or the temporary timeouts or the labels that get thrown on things, Facebook is kind of the big one when it comes to the labels being thrown on, where a lot of people are really concerned about, well, wait a minute, is this essentially political discrimination, or is this something that actually goes into standard moderation?
OK, there’s a couple of things you threw out there. One is deplatforming, which is when you break the rules of a platform. No matter how powerful it is, you get kicked off for breaking rules. Censorship is a very different thing, and there is absolutely no proof of shadow banning anywhere. And believe me, I’ve been a very tough critic of technology companies. It’s not true. It’s just simply not true that they’re doing this. If people perceive it, they may be breaking rules that exist on the platforms, like Alex Jones, for example, and many others, and therefore should be. In case of Marjorie Taylor Greene, she was kicked off for harmful lies during a pandemic that she continued to double down on. She was tweeting vaccines were failing and, quote, “do not reduce the spread of virus, and neither do masks,” claims that aren’t true.
Kara, can I push back on this point?
So I’ll give you, here’s an anecdotal example from just from myself. So Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator, I follow Dinesh on Twitter. I never see anything he says. Same thing with Don Jr. And Don Jr. is someone who’s pretty prolific in the social media game. Now, I do see him on Instagram. I never see any — the only time I ever see them is if somebody else happens to retweet them or repost them specific to Twitter.
What do you imagine is happening? You think it’s just that you just don’t see them or that they’re being deprioritized in the algorithm because someone’s pushing a button? I really want to get to the heart of what people actually think of this because I’ve had lots of people — Anthony Scaramucci said the same thing to me, and I said it was nonsense. This is what drives me crazy. There are things that these social media companies definitely do. Whether you agree with them or not, they do things that are wrong, whether they’re grabbing your data without your permission, et cetera, et cetera. And this has been well-documented. There is not a sign of proof except feelings, and feelings aren’t facts. They just aren’t.
You know what? I’m not sure what exactly it is. But when you talk about some of these very prolific tweeters and some people just never see them, it just defies logic. It doesn’t make sense.
Well, although —
And it’s not just myself saying it. I mean, it’s even —
I understand a lot of people say it, but a lot of people say there’s alligators in the toilet system. It’s just not so. You know what I mean? And if it was — I want to understand where — you think that they are purposely trying to deprioritize conservative voices?
I do believe so, yes. I think, as we’ll get to probably a little bit more in depth here, even President Trump being completely deplatformed after January 6, I think that this last year, and even, look, even going into the Biden White House where we have the press secretary saying, hey, we’re working with these social media companies to identify certain posts, it might not be one. First of all, I don’t think it’s like some grand plan, but I think it’s these small encroachments on our free speech rights that concern me. Because look, right now, it’s the right of center space that has all the passion. That’s the really kind of the free speech debate. But 10, 20 years ago, a lot of the free speech debate was, say, in the gay rights community or the gay marriage. You go further back on that, we’re talking women’s rights.
O.K., Jason Miller, defender of gays and women, it was not on my bingo card. But O.K., I’ll let you say that. But the second part you also talked about was that the Biden administration is close with these tech companies. He said they’re killing people. He walked it back slightly, but still continues to have that line. And secondly, he’s hired Lina Khan, Tim Wu, all tech critics, very heavy tech critics.
But you look at kind of the culture that they have there in the Biden White House of, we’re working with the tech companies, and we’re going to identify which posts and which users and things, that starts to scare me.
I think they’re talking specifically about vaccine misinformation in the middle of a pandemic in that case. But let’s go to Trump, actually, because you’ve been his comms guy through the bulk of his political career. You were his chief spokesman for the 2016 campaign, top advisor in 2020 and on January 6. Were you with him that day? And what did you think of those tweets?
Yeah, one of the things going into the 6th, all of the focus, all the attention was really what was going to happen to Vice President Pence at 1 p.m. And I spoke with President Trump that morning on the 6th. Keep in mind that was the morning after the elections in Georgia, where we lost both of those Senate seats, and most of our conversation was about that. He asked me a question about crowd size, what it looked like down at the Mall. At which point, I had Fox News on in the background. And I said, oh, well, they have Pete Hegseth or one of the correspondents down there interviewing people. Looks like a pretty big crowd. And then we immediately went to what was going to happen up on the Hill with Vice President Pence. And so I think for a lot of folks, they’re a little bit astounded. Like, wait, you didn’t know this was coming? You weren’t watching it? My focus was so singularly on what was going to happen at 1 o’clock when Vice President Pence started counting those ballots. I hadn’t even read President Trump’s speech for that morning. I think a lot of folks that were coming in, it was kind of the Elvis’s last concert, so to speak. So they wanted to be part of this and all the images that were happening down at the Ellipse. And it wasn’t really till more like 2:30, 3 o’clock that i remember starting to see more escalated violence and activity. At which point, that was kind of the oh S-H-I-T — and at which point, I called Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, and wanted to make sure that he was tracking everything going on. And we had a very brief conversation where he said, yep, I’m aware of everything going on. There was some version of a question of, what are we doing about it? And he said, there are a number of things that are in play. But since you’re outside the White House and not part of the national security team or law enforcement, can’t go into it with you. So I didn’t then speak with the president again until, I think, maybe 9 or 9:30 that evening.
That evening. But he was watching it. In fact, let me read some of his tweets, and I just would love your reaction to them.
It started in the morning. “Get smart, Republicans. Fight.” And then another one, “If Vice President Mike Pence comes through for us, we will win the presidency. The states want to redo their votes. They found out the voting to be a fraud. Legislature never approved. Let them do it. Be strong.” What did you think was going to happen with these tweets? Do you think it had an impact on this crowd, and including the speech that he gave?
So I think there are a couple of things that we need to unpack here. I think my thought is that, could President Trump have said something earlier as far as, hey, we need to go home, we need to do things? Absolutely. Do I think it would have fundamentally changed what happened that day? No. Nor do I think that anything that happened from President Trump’s remarks had anything to do with, quote unquote, “inciting people.” And so clearly, this was a pretty dark day in our nation’s history, and I think it was terrible. And there were lapses all the way across the board. I do not think that the president’s speech or any of his tweets on that day, though, contributed to this activity, this criminal activity happening.
So you don’t think there’s any link between his tweets and what happened? Because he had been a persistent violator. They had sort of given him quite a wide berth up to that day. I had written a column in 2019 saying, what if he did this, this, this, and this, and then there was an attack on the Capitol? This is 2019, because you could sort of see the escalations.
No. And when I spoke with the president that night, it was very clear that he realized the severity of what had happened that day. And I remember he made a comment to me, something along the lines of, Jase, I mean, we’re the law and order party. I mean, what do these guys not get? I mean, this is not something that we would support or we’d be on board with.
So why didn’t he say that explicitly on Twitter, which was his platform? He wouldn’t have gotten kicked off had he done that, my guess.
Well, I think that was a matter of when, not if. So I’ll disagree with you on that point.
O.K. Nonetheless, I don’t think he went out of his way to slow it down in any way. But he was kicked off of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. I think he deserved it after many years of breaking rules on it. But I’d love to know what you thought about the deplatforming.
Yeah. So I think, look, I fundamentally disagree with it, and I have a couple of problems with it. One, I think that the, quote unquote, “last straw” in particular that Twitter decided to pick, which was the “I’m not going to go to Biden’s inauguration,” I thought was just kind of weird.
I think it was these tweets he made on January 6 were the issue. But go ahead.
But I think you understand my point, that that was the final straw.
There were a lot of straws, Jason. But go ahead.
I think that their grounds that they went with to go and kick him off the platforms and then the way that it all became basically all the different platforms, in my opinion, colluding together to eliminate President Trump’s First Amendment rights. And I realize that they are private companies and they have the right to —
Colluding, meaning you think they called each other?
Oh, I’m sure there were some conversations between the companies.
There was not.
You’re making it up, Jason. It’s not true.
I’m saying that I think there was —
They watch each other. They don’t call each other and say, now it’s time to deplatform him.
OK, maybe it was a smoke signal from —
There’s no smoke signals.
— one side of Silicon Valley to the other.
Don’t use smoke metaphors in California right now.
Oh, yeah, sorry, California. That’s a little insensitive. I’m sorry.
They didn’t want to be handmaidens to sedition is my guess, individually. I don’t think they colluded, but go ahead.
And I also think it sets a dangerous precedent to go and kick off a sitting president of the United States, even if he only has two weeks to go left in his first term or even afterwards. I think that’s a real dangerous precedent —
Because again, this is someone who received almost 75 million votes just a couple of months earlier. I think that’s effectively saying anyone who voted for President Trump that we want this voice silenced. And my concern is, if you go and say, hey, we’re kicking off President Trump, all that’s going to do is make people even more upset, more angry. People aren’t going to be like, oh, you know what, thanks, Jack. Now that I see that you’ve deplatformed President Trump, I’m going to recognize that I should just fall into line and agree with everything that Team Twitter or with Zuckerberg with Facebook or any of the other tech giants, what they’re saying. It’s going to further push people apart in this country, and I think that’s the wrong way to do it.
All right, but what if he breaks the rules? He’s a persistent rule breaker on that platform, and they gave him lots of rope.
But I would say, look, there are a number of things they can do, whether putting someone on the temporary a few hours’ timeout, or maybe there’s a little bit of a longer timeout, but to effectively give him the digital death penalty, which is what they all did. And I have heard your comments on this, but, I mean, the whole Facebook thing was pretty silly. Like, OK, we’re going to kick it to a committee, then have them look at it, then come back. Then two years after the midterms, we’ll come back and look at it. This whole notion of the digital death penalty, I think, is really problematic. Again, President Trump was cleared when it came to his second impeachment trial.
He wasn’t cleared completely. He was acquitted, but still impeached. But let me just, so you think that a president, sitting president, shouldn’t be deplatformed no matter how they behave, even if they break rules that are existing on the platforms?
I think it would have to be such a — I couldn’t even really conceive of what kind of case would go into that. But certainly, nothing that President Trump did, in my opinion, tripped that threshold to where you would say, you’re getting the digital death penalty. And even though you’re a sitting president of the United States, we’re not going to allow you to be able to communicate anymore in the way that everyone’s used to in kind of this digital town square, so to speak.
Why can’t social media do what they want? It’s not a digital town square. It’s a private company. Conservatives say bakers have a right not to make cakes for gay weddings, so why can’t platforms police their own site?
I mean, yes, you’re right that they are private companies, but they also get some certain protections when we talk about Section 230. And unlike some of my conservative allies, I’m not a hardcore, oh, repeal Section 230, that’s the way to go.
Not now you shouldn’t be.
Yeah, not now.
You probably are hugging Section 230 right now.
No, but I think it has to be reformed. And I think specifically to that, if you’re going to be able to have this Section 230 protection, then I don’t think that you should be able to practice political discrimination when it comes to silencing —
Yes, but that’s not the rules.
But that’s what I’m saying. That’s what the reform that I think needs to be done.
Sure, but it doesn’t exist right now.
But I do think that they’re going to be able to use that Section 230 as a shield. I do think that we need to reform that. Now, here’s kind of my point how this kind of gets into Gettr. So you have the — obviously, there needs to be a legislative fix, which I don’t think is ever going to get right any time soon. Obviously, a lot of the big tech companies have pretty powerful lobbies. I don’t really have confidence in Congress, whether it be Democrats or Republicans, really to fix this. I mean, look, you’ve got a lot of octogenarians up there don’t know the difference between a tweet and a truck. And they’re going to come tell us, here’s how you’re going to fix communications in the digital age? I’m skeptical. I’m also skeptical that the courts are going to come back with a solution. But if I had the magic wand, which I clearly don’t, I would reform Section 230, not completely get rid of it.
You don’t have a right to be on Facebook. Do you think you have the right to be on Facebook? Or do you have a right to be on Twitter? Or do you have a right to be? I don’t know why that —
Well, hold on. But here’s where I’m going to take issue because this is where I get into the political censorship. I think that I have a right to be treated the same or fairly on a platform as someone who has a different political viewpoint. That’s the point. And that’s where I believe that we’ve seen political discrimination. And all these things that we see, whether it be, again, Facebook putting up the warning about this content or posts or videos being taken down on Twitter and getting into the way that they treat folks who are on the political right is completely different than how they treat folks on the political left.
But come on, most popular Facebook posts are on the right. And there is a thing called “no shirts, no shoes, no service.” They don’t have — they have their rules. That’s what I want to try to get. It’s like, it doesn’t really matter whatever they do. They could decide left-handed people can’t be on the site, and then they’ll work through the legal system that they’re protected for it. It’s just, you don’t have to be able to be on Twitter and misbehave in ways they think you’re misbehaving. And I’m loathe to defend tech companies, but they are allowed to do that.
But I think that here is — and I think we may have found a little bit of commonality, unless I misunderstood you, that just because they might have the current legal right to go and discriminate politically, I don’t think that they should.
I don’t think they’re politically discriminating. That’s where we part. But go ahead.
Hold on. Hold on. O,K,, you got to explain the Hunter Biden claim then.
I think they made a mistake. I think they absolutely made a mistake and shouldn’t have quickly done things. I think they make mistakes all the time. They make constantly. But Donald Trump absolutely broke the rules of Twitter, which was can’t incite violence, and they determined that he did.
What about the clampdown that we saw with regard to the early days of Covid, about Covid being from the lab.
Mistake. I think Republicans and Democrats have got them so panicked, they don’t know what to do. And so they act first and ask questions later. I think a lot of people who say they’re being censored never shut up on these platforms, and they’re the most popular people on them.
I do think that there’s an inherent worldview that many of these big tech companies have that differs from, say, that of Trump supporters or people who are on the political right. And I think that kind of the knee-jerk reaction on some of these things, whether it be the Hunter Biden or regard to the origins of Covid, I think the reactions have acted in a political discriminatory type manner. That’s where I think so much of the anger and the passion comes from in the right of center space in the U.S. and how this has continued to fester.
But the idea of censorship, I think it just is too far. It’s just not. The problem is, to me, the problem is power, and only two people make this decision, even if it’s the right decision. And that is where I have a problem with it. I still don’t think they’re plotting against Donald Trump. I think he violated the rules, and that was that. So let me ask you, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get back on these mainstream platforms any time soon. Since then, Trump had his short-lived Desk of Donald Trump blog. What was the strategy there? And who was responsible for that mess?
So to be clear on that, and look, I don’t want to throw anyone on the team under the bus. What it was basically a renamed sub side or the micro side of where they’re posting his press releases and such, and I think that there were some overly ambitious folks who pushed it out without getting President Trump’s buy-in. Because look, he’s never going to go and blog. I mean, now, did the actual product that was put forward allow for easily sharing his press releases or statements or such? Yeah, and that was good. But it got overhyped up. And there’s so much energy about when is President Trump going to get back to social media that the first story was, this is his new platform. I’m like, it’s not a platform, it’s a blanking blog.
So was that Nucleus and Brad Parscale?
No point throwing anyone under the bus, but let’s just say there were some — the president had not signed off on that particular messaging. But it got taken down.
So he has no platform right now. And now, he had been courted by Parler. He never got on the platform. What happened in those talks?
I can’t really speak to what happened in the Parler talks other than what I’ve read in a couple of these post-presidency books. So I don’t the kind of the granular details.
So you’re not aware what happened with Parler, that he wanted to ban users who wrote negative comments about them? Is that accurate? Michael Wolff said that.
I have been told that the banning people from making negative comments, that that’s not accurate. I know that there were some talks about a percentage of it. But since I wasn’t in the meetings, it wouldn’t be right for me to say, here’s exactly what was discussed, because then I’m going off secondhand information.
OK. But here you are at Gettr now. So you left Trump’s team to join this social media platform as its CEO. Explain how you got there.
Yeah. So a couple of things here. I got connected with, as some of these different pitches and meetings were coming along, I found out that Gettr was being put together. And actually, Steve Bannon had introduced me to some of the folks, some of the engineers and other people who are funding and putting together the platform. So I got to chatting with them and kind of got to know them and started going through their, really at that point in the beta testing phase. And so probably had a two or three month courtship. And then in June, I made the decision that I want to go and do this.
O.K., so one glaring omission — I’m assuming one of the reasons they hired you — is Trump is not on your platform, despite your relationship. Why not?
I’m working it. Look, the president has a number of different options that are in front of him. It’s always fun to sit across the table with someone who wrote “The Art of the Deal.” So we’re continuing to talk. I’ve told him that I have his @RealDonaldTrump handle reserved for him. It’s all ready. I’m hopeful that we’re going to able to get him on the platform.
Well, I’d like specifics. How do you woo former President Trump to get on the platform?
This one’s a little bit kind of like the “Fight Club.” You can’t talk about “Fight Club.” But it’s —
Yeah, but I’d like you to talk about Fight Club. How do you get him to come on? Do you have to give him money? Do you have to give him equity, money, cash?
Everything is a negotiation. But it’s —
What does he want?
Well, I can tell you, here’s what I can say about it. He wants to get back on social media. I mean, his statements and things get picked up now, but he’d much rather be on social media itself. And if you go back to 2016, he wouldn’t have gotten elected in 2016 if he didn’t have a way to circumvent the traditional media. I mean, that was kind of his superpower. I think he wants to get back on social media. I think he wants to be a part of something that grows and big, and I think a way to monetize on that as well.
What’s he waiting? What, is he worried it’s a loser? I would assume that’s why.
No. Well, look, I think probably the reason why he didn’t jump on before we launched is he wanted to see how we’re going to do. I mean, there have been so many of these platforms, again, whether it’s Parler, these other platforms that have come along, that maybe they’ve had their brief moment. Maybe there was a hitch. Maybe something didn’t quite work. Probably wanted to see how we’re going to go and stand the test of time.
Are you agreeing to special rules for him and what is posted about him?
Oh, there’s no such thing as special rules for anybody. The rules that we have are the rules that we have, and that doesn’t get changed for anybody.
So you will not give him any kind of special editing rules or anything like that?
No, no. I mean, I have said that if you’re a content creator or if we can make it where if you’re in elected office or something like that, maybe you have longer video posts. But as far as there are no individuals have certain carve-outs or rules or anything like that.
So not even Donald Trump? He will have to adhere to the whatever rules you have?
Yeah, everybody. Our rules are our rules, and we don’t have special rules for certain people.
So two things in terms of why he might not. If there are no liberals to troll — you know I’ve called him troller-in-chief. So no liberals to troll, no fighting to go on, the press isn’t there. That’s one of the appeals of Twitter, presumably, to President Trump and others who want to be part of a scene. How do you create that? You were saying fun. I don’t think social media is about fun. It’s about rage and anger and dunking and this and that.
But I mean, look, I’ve heard you say on the podcast before, I think you used the word “cesspool.” Was that —
It is, but I enjoy the cesspool also. I said I swim in it very happily, but it’s different.
Look, right now, when I go to Gettr in the morning, I flip on there — and as you’ve probably seen, I’m on there all various hours — I actually like going on there and being part of this new and growing community. If I go on Twitter, for example, you can’t even look at, say, the comments or anything. Just everything just goes —
— into super nasty and negative, and it’s just like the Dominique Wilkins 1985 windmill jams.
No idea what that is, but go ahead.
OK. I’m sorry, basketball term.
That’s all right. Go ahead.
But going back to, it’s just everything is about just slamming other people. I do think we can make this fun.
And may I say, Republicans do it beautifully. Why do you want to create a safe space for people?
Well, I want to make sure that people don’t lose that ability for their political free speech. And again, not that everything on Gettr is political. I mean, one of the things that I’m making a very concerted effort to try to expand it out, get not just folks in the US, but people internationally in other countries. Making a very serious effort to try to get some left of center folks onto the platform as well.
So what are the five Democrats you want to sign up? Who would be your dream Democrats?
I’d love to get Bernie Sanders. I mean, keep in mind that President Trump ended up getting somewhere in the neighborhood of, was it, 7% or 9% of Bernie Sanders supporters in the general election in 2016? I think there are actually a lot of Bernie supporters, kind of Bernie free speech advocates, that I think do appreciate what we’re trying to do. And then for the sake of having some fun, I’d love to get Rob Reiner, go and give me some of the Hollywood people to come in and have some fun with it.
So Bernie Sanders and Rob Reiner. Who else? Give me two more.
Oh, I’d love to get President Biden, Vice President Harris, and I think then Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi would be great.
OK. So talk about growth because growth and scaling is the most important thing. Tell me, what are the numbers? And how are new registrations going?
Yeah, numbers are good. We’re just under 2 million, right about 2 million. I mean, we had a great explosive out of the gate, a lot of free media. I think a lot of that was the speculation of what President Trump may or may not do. I think we also got lucky with getting some folks in other countries to jump on. Brazil is about, actually, right now, it’s about 13 and 1/2% of our user base, which is great. And so —
Well, actually, may I take a moment? Orkut was very popular in Brazil. Do you remember how Orkut was?
Yes, that was the —
— Google’s initial attempt. Right.
Yeah. They said, we’re big in Brazil. I’m like, I’m so sorry. Not that they weren’t. They just never were popular anywhere else. That was the problem. So what gets you to growth of new — it’s got to be Trump. That’s it, right? You have to get Trump on this platform?
A couple of things. Obviously, I want to get President Trump on the platform. I mean, that’s obvious. But what I found is that when you have the big influencers, you have the big movers, that’s when people start to follow. So for example, you take a look at Brazil, which is our number two, versus, say, the U.K., which is number eight for us. And even though we’ve had great P.R., great media coverage in the UK, it hasn’t translated into new users because we haven’t really had those bigger names. I do think that we’re close, I think, to locking in a bigger name in the U.K. to join the platform, which will then move —
Who is that, Boris Johnson?
We can’t say, but I think that we’re —
— close. But there are a couple other places —
Is the queen going to join?
Is she on social media?
Oh, you know what? I need to get the queen on board. You just gave me a great idea. But here’s the one thing, Kara, that I want to get to, is for all of that planning and what always makes the social media platforms pop, or as we saw, say, with Parler, it’ll be the news cycle. That’s where Parler went to their, for example, massive scale, and where they moved so quickly. It was driven by the news cycle, not anything —
Are they your biggest competitor? Would you say they’re your biggest competitor?
Oh, you know what —
You know what, I don’t, no —
Don’t say you don’t think they’re not competitors because I’ll just—
I want to be bigger than Twitter.
You’re going to be bigger than Twitter. Good luck with that. [MUSIC PLAYING]
So who’s funding the app exactly?
So we have multiple international investment funds that are putting into this. As I’ve said before, the Family Foundation of Miles Guo is one of the initial funders, one of the initial sponsors of this. There’s been over $50 million that’s put in the platform so far and have somewhere in $25, $30 million range that we currently have in the bank. So that’s a good start.
And this is mostly from the Guo family, correct? This is the Chinese billionaire who’s working closely with Steve Bannon, Miles Guo?
So again, there are multiple investment funds that are put in this. I don’t want to go and say the percentages that they’ve each put in. Mr. Guo doesn’t have any direct financial investment in Gettr, nor does Mr. Bannon. And neither of them have any management role or leadership role within the company.
So Mr. Guo has said he’s an advisor. Is he, and what power does that give him? And is Mr. Bannon an advisor?
I would say both are allies. I’d say both are kindred spirits when it comes to the broader free speech movement. But neither of them have roles in the company or any day-to-day role. I don’t report to them. We have a board. We have shareholders. We have a very formal structured process that’s put together. But again, they’re both, I’d say, supporters and allies in it, but it’s very much in the informal capacity.
O.K., let’s get into content moderation on Gettr. I want to read your terms of service here. You say, quote, “Gettr holds freedom of speech at its core value and does not wish to censor your opinions. Nevertheless, Gettr may but not have obligation to review, monitor, display, post, store, maintain, accept, and otherwise make use of any of your U.G.C. And Gettr may, in its sole discretion, reject, delete, move, reformat, remove, or refuse to post, or otherwise make use of U.G.C.” That is user-generated content. So what are you saying here? You can regulate content if you feel like it, right?
Well, there are a couple differences here. Number one is that we don’t discriminate based on political beliefs. As you’ve probably seen from some of my posts, people want to come out and say that I’m terrible or “Orange Man Bad,” or as I call it, Mondays, people are welcome to come on and do it. But we do have here — and I have the policy in front of me because I knew you were going to ask this — here’s what we don’t put up with — threatening or intimidating others; bullying, harassing, or stalking others; homophobic, racial, or sexual slurs; hate speech; encouraging criminal or illegal behavior; encouraging self-harm; sharing another person’s private information, including personal information, gender, ethnicity, address, doxxing; sexually explicit content; spamming others by sending numerous unsolicited messages; unauthorized advertisements, propaganda, or business services; content depicting or describing excessive violence, such as beheadings. And, look, I get some criticism from free speech advocates say, whoa, whoa, whoa, if you’re really a free speech outlet, why would you have any of this?
Yes, that would be my question.
Look, the way that free speech normally works is — and again, this is kind of the oversimplification — is that your free speech rights work or extend up to the point where either they infringe on someone else’s free speech rights or they cross the line into criminal behavior. But in the spirit that this is a digital town square, the same thing where if someone was going nuts and doing that literally outside in a town square, there are certain ramifications of that. And so we want to make sure this is an inviting place where people aren’t being threatened, they’re not being doxxed with information, because we have to make sure that this is a place where people can come and share. Whether it be their political viewpoints or maybe things where the mainstream media or some of the other tech companies won’t let them talk about, we need to make sure that this is an environment that is safe to do that.
You sound awfully like Mark Zuckerberg to me. I mean, it’s feels like free speech lite is what you’re talking about. When you say don’t put up with, what does that mean? Do you automatically flag content? What is don’t put up with, and who decides?
Look, part of the reason why we’ve been successful so far is that we’ve had a proactive and a robust moderation platform where we’ve made it very clear that we aren’t going to, for example, look the other way if someone’s using racial or religious epithets, that we’re not going to put up with these graphic descriptions. That’s not political free speech.
Some people think it is. You do know some people think it is.
Oh, yeah, some do. And trust me, they use their free speech to tell me that in pretty direct terms.
OK, so walk me through who decides on this stuff, because this is the crux of the problem. You’re saying at these social media companies, without evidence — I’m sorry, but you don’t — that they make decisions based on their political views. Who’s responsible for the decisions at Gettr?
Yeah. So we teamed up with both an A.I. company and with a human moderation company, and I spend a lot of my time on the moderation side. So obviously, we have their A.P.I. filter, and then anything that’s above a 0.9 on our scale. And there are, obviously, certain kill words that we have that go right to the list that I rolled out earlier. So there are certain things you’re not able to go and post on the platform. Anything between, say, like a 0.9 and a 0.5 then goes to the human moderation side, where they go through and they review it. I did the check this morning. I think it’s about 97 or 98 people who are going through this.
Only 98 people?
But again, when you look at our current, it expands. So it’s like an accordion. That’s after it’s gone through the A.I. part. Then it goes to the human review. Then if there’s a question that comes up, for example, that they’re not quite clear, then it goes to essentially our executive committee. So that’s a group of four. But then if they need some additional viewpoint, then they bring me in, and I’ll come in and work with them as well.
So again, it’s a private group of people with power over free speech].
Look, so it’s definitely different in structure than what some other folks have done. But we think we’ve found a pretty good rhythm now between the A.I. part with going through the human moderators that we have. And then if there are question marks of where things are, I think we’ve assembled some pretty smart people. But again, we know that there have to be some aspect of moderation. But our goal is to make sure that people are never being told, hey, you’re not allowed to have these beliefs anymore.
But you bragged about removing liberal content. You said the mod system had already tracked left of center people who tried to join the platform, that you were, quote, “able to catch them and delete some of that content.” If you’re talking about free speech, why would you want to do that?
Look, every social media platform has gone through some aspect of this where you get the trolls who want to come in and try to post certain types of inappropriate content, for example. We’ve seen some content that’s very clearly, very clearly, some foreign actors at work. We’ve also seen people come in with — and again, these are largely bots or people with very political focus, but will come in try to post inappropriate content with the goal of trying to cause havoc or try to cause problems for Gettr. And so, look, if you violate the rules of the platform, then you’re violating the rules of the platform. But we have seen what are very clearly some left of center attempts to come and post inappropriate content and try to disrupt the platform.
So is that discrimination based on political views? Shouldn’t they be able to do that?
But I’m saying it was very much a coordinated effort to come in, and I can track it from the activity spikes. And if someone right of center did that, they’d be yanked just as quick.
All right, let’s go through some examples of content that has been found on Gettr. Pro-ISIS or jihadi content, this has been a problem. Politico reported finding graphic videos of beheadings and memes promoting violence against the West on the Gettr app. They also found at least 250 accounts posting this content regularly.
So we had at the very outset of launching Gettr, we had a lot of influx. This is when I talk about some of those spikes. We had some Middle East folks who were trying to pump in some imagery. And basically, their message was the whole death to the West, just nonsensical stuff. So we were flooded with that early. Gone through and cleared most all that out. Even the Politico story did mention as we got into July that we got things cleared up.
Well, let me pick another one. Pornographic images, there’s been anime porn on Gettr, pornographic photo shops of Hillary Clinton, lewd memes. A recent report found child exploitation imagery. The report that just came out, which I’m sure you’ve read from The Stanford Observatory, that you’re not using photo D.N.A. technology. Why not use it or automate this?
Well, a couple of things on the photo D.N.A. So first of all, that’s not a magical protection.
All the other platforms dealt with this as well. In fact, Twitter, I think, is being sued for allegedly not taking down certain posts and things like that. Let me tell you how our process works. So as things go through, and obviously, we have pretty tight filters when it comes to images, especially with regarding kids. And we even say that we don’t want anyone younger than 16 on the platform. Obviously, it could be images or other things people try to put through. Not only do we think most all of those are caught initially on the A.I. front, any image, any image, that gets posted and has a child gets reviewed by a human. On the photo D.N.A., we have applied to go and start work with photo D.N.A. as well.
I’m going to move onto another one. This is people saying Covid doesn’t exist or that Bill Gates is putting chips in your bloodstream or that you should, say, inject yourself with bleach, whatever, any of these things that are very unsafe. How do you deal with those?
Again, got to go through on a case by case basis. I know that’s a little bit of a punt on that. But until you actually see that exact post —
What about what Marjorie Taylor Greene posted on Twitter? They took it down, that vaccines were failing. They are not. Quote, “They do not reduce the spread of virus, and neither do masks.” These are all not true and quite dangerous in the middle of a pandemic, especially with the variant.
So, look, I’m vaccinated. I’ve told people to go get vaccinated. I would say that the science on masks, I think, has been all over the map. Look, Dr. Fauci, don’t get me started on Dr. Fauci.
Oh, I won’t.
He said we don’t need any masks. Then he said wear one.
Well, I know that. That’s called science. It changes. I’m sorry. It is a developing pandemic, Jason. That’s what’s happened. We’re not going to argue about that right now. What I want to know is, what do you do about actually false virus information that we can agree on is not true?
I think are some very valid political points that she’s saying there. Do I disagree with every single point that she’s saying? No. Do I think she has a political right on a lot of these things to go and express herself? Yes.
But come on, Jason. There’s data suggesting that more than 95% of hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in the unvaccinated. So are they failing?
That’s her political opinion.
That’s not an opinion.
In my opinion, that’s not a post that we would take down.
Now let’s go to an easier subject, the big lie. Trump has continued repeating these claims of a rigged vote, even though there’s been no evidence to suggest that and court after court has rejected that. So as his advisor, you’ve all been part of propagating that, false claims about deleted databases, lies about voters being purged from rolls because they voted for Trump, weird claims about election systems flipping votes, repeated stolen message. And I’m not just talking about Rudy Giuliani here. I mean, what do you do about those? Let people just have at it?
Well, no. Look, I do think that there is a big crisis with regard to the confidence in our elections. I think, yeah, that there should be audits, and we should have the ability to go through and really make sure that these are done on the up and up. It’s not going to change anything with regard to, say, 2020. But I do think that this is something important that has to be addressed in advance of 2022, 2024. And I don’t think it’s an issue that we should just ignore.
O.K., but if it was on your site, what should people be able to say?
I think people should be able to express what their political belief is. If believe that the election was rigged or if they believe that the tabulations weren’t the right way, I mean, again, that’s their political opinions. They want to go and express that.
OK, but I’m trying to get is, where is your line? For all of these things, between political opinion, which people have, all kinds of things, and truth or science, slash facts, anything can be political opinion, despite evidence.
But I don’t think it’s quite that easy because if you look back at some of the — I know you hate this word, but — the censorship or where folks on the right of center space have been told to just shut up and quit arguing on things over the past year —
They never shut up. Jason, they never shut up, and they never don’t get to talk because they are the most popular things on these sites.
But I think if people want to try to get to the bottom and figure out what happened with the election and make sure that these are corrected and fixed so we have more confidence as a society going into future elections, I think that’s a good thing.
O.K. So now that you’re on the platform side of things, do you have a new appreciation for the struggles of other social media platforms?
Oh, of course, yeah. I mean, that’s a complicated bag of squirrels that you go through. But I do think that the overarching principle, that we’re never going to deplatform someone or tell them to shut up simply for expressing their political viewpoint. We’re never going to sell or share any user data.
Well, that begs the question, how do you make money?
Well, ultimately, as we continue to build the community, we want to launch a competitor to ApplePay or AliPay. We want to have Gettr Pay.
So as we move into the financial services space, that’s where this ultimately becomes a profitable vehicle. The other thing, too, is with the online content creators, we do think that we can do this in a way that puts a lot more money into folks’ pocket by bringing their content to Gettr, the same way that people use Bits, for example, with Twitch as far as tipping or online appreciation for content creators. And as we start moving into Q4 here, I’ll also bring the political contributions. So I’m already in some initial talks with folks about how to bring that onto the platform.
So not advertising. So you’re not relying on the My Pillow guy, essentially.
There will not be any advertising till probably Q1 of next year.
All right, there’s a bigger brawl in the Republican Party right now. Liz Cheney is being a sort of a sacrificial lamb, who was thrown out of her leadership role in the party after she spoke out against the former president and his big lie. What’s the end message here? The Republican Party should be defined by loyalty to this idea?
I don’t think it’s one big loyalty test. But I will tell you that President Trump has transformed the Republican Party. So the Republican Party effectively is President Trump at this point. I think going into 2016, there was a big disconnect between, say, the grassroots activists and kind of the party elites in Washington. And what President Trump really did was expose that chasm. And so there’s a reason why, say, Liz Cheney is being so targeted as opposed to, say, like Tom Rice from South Carolina. I think Liz Cheney has made it very personal with President Trump. And I think that’s also part of the problem is when you have someone who’s as popular as he is with Republicans, to make it that personal, you’re going to set yourself up for being on the negativity end of what a lot of your constituents have to say.
So your relation with Trump right now, when’s the last time you talked to him to beg him to come on Gettr?
That’s a good question. I talked to him Friday? I think it was Friday. I think I’m going to go see him tomorrow. So I’m doing my best to be the squeaky wheel.
One of the things I think is it cannot be successful without him on your platform. So then my last question then is, his media platform is much smaller these days, no matter how you slice it. He can do his rallies. He can put out his press releases on this blog or whatever it is. And he can go on Fox News and various places. But it’s much smaller. Can he continue to have influence if he does not get back online to run in 2024?
Oh, I think he’ll continue to have a lot of influence. Yeah, of course. I think that if he does make that decision to run in 2024, he has not said the magic words to me, but he very much sounds like someone who’s running.
What does that mean? What is “sounds like“? People keep saying that. What does that actually sound like?
Look, I —
Is it an evil laugh? Is it a grunt?
Well, no, when I went over to see him last week, and he had sitting out — someone had dropped off these four massive binders with thousands of petition signatures trying to draft him to run in 2024. And we were talking about it, and just hearing the way that he’s talking very much sounds like someone who is more likely to run than not. But unfortunately, he didn’t give me any kind of secret wink or nod. I don’t think we’re going to hear anything from him formally until after the midterms. But to me, he sounds like someone who’s running.
What will the slogan be?
That’s a good question. Make America Great Again Again? No.
No, that doesn’t work.
I don’t know. The only time I ever really got in trouble with him was when I came up with a nickname that he hadn’t signed off on. And he kind of —
What was it?
So he was in the air. It was right after Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine. And he’s kind of pretty cozy with a number of his donors. And so I throw out Corrupt Kaine, and I thought it tied into the Hillary stuff really good with Crooked Hillary. And so the next morning, he’s like, hey, Jase, so I saw you came up with a nickname. I’m like, yes, sir. What’d you think? Like, yeah, so don’t ever do that again. There’s a reason why we have Crooked Hillary, which you would agree is the greatest political nickname ever. And he was like, yeah.
I would not agree.
And he goes, here’s the thing. He’s like, there’s never been a politician who’s been hated like Hillary Clinton. Why take our attention off of her? So just in the future, he goes, if you have a nickname, if you have a slogan, something like that, just run it by me first. He goes, or if you run for president, then you get to pick the nicknames and the slogans. Until then, let me do it.
All right, thanks, Jason. I appreciate it.
Kara, I appreciate the conversation. [MUSIC PLAYING]