3 Lessons From The Right's Social Media Ventures
Less than a year after being voted out of the Oval Office in a grueling election that lasted way more than four hours (making pretty much everyone want to seek immediate medical attention), it seems former President Donald Trump has finally emerged from his Mar-a-Lago Office of the Former President ready to embark on his next
money grab business venture. Amid rumors that Donnie was contemplating taking another shot at becoming Commander in Chief in 2024, 45 has flipped the script (as much as a 75-year-old right-wing figurehead can flip the script) launching something else entirely – his own social media platform, TRUTH Social.
Announced on Wednesday, the former POTUS says his new endeavor, which certainly isn't a means of garnering some cold, hard cash, is designed to “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech," whatever the hell that means. “We live in a world where the Taliban has a presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American president has been silenced,” he added according to CNET, inadvertently implying that the Taliban can abide by community guidelines better than he ever could.
Considering the right wing's general consensus that they've been unfairly targeted by digital platforms (despite reputable investigations stating otherwise), this move isn't really surprising to anyone – except for those sweet, innocent souls that entered their doomsday bunker in December 2012 and still think of Trump as the “you're fired” guy from The Apprentice. However predictability isn't always wise. Aside from the fact that social media is probably not the best industry to enter right now – looking at you Faceboo--sorry, the company soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Facebook – the right wing's history with digital endeavors is rocky at best, especially over the past several months.
From the, erm, sexual repercussions of unchecked free speech (a.k.a Hentai-gate) to a string of alarming hacks, here are three lessons we can learn from the right's social media ventures.
1. Unchecked free speech can have hentai-filled consequences
Launched by one of 45's former senior advisors, Jason Miller, GETTR was seemingly designed to not only prove that some tech entrepreneurs just don't know how to turn off caps lock, but also with the intention of “fighting cancel culture, promoting common sense, defending free speech, challenging social media monopolies, and creating a true marketplace of ideas," per its tagline.
Yet GETTR, like many largely unmoderated sites overrun with hate speech, once again proved that letting community boards run wild is never a great idea – unless you really like Hentai, furry porn, and grandpas in diapers, according to Motherboard. Although GETTR claimed it would “address content that comes to our attention that we believe is … pornographic” as well as posts deemed “offensive, obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy… violent, harassing, threatening, abusive, illegal, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate," it seems for some time, various types of porn didn't fall into those categories. Shortly after its launch, several
heroes GETTR users flooded the site with some seriously kinky s--t, much of which was crammed under the hashtag #QAnon. Nice.
Despite their penchant for touting free speech, it seems several believers in the baseless conspiracy ironically began clutching their pearls at the site's, erm, evident dedication to freedom of speech – porn included – with a popular telegram channel, “We The Media,” swearing off of it entirely.
“Seems like vapor," they wrote in a message evidently failing to see even a scrap of irony in the situation, per the tech outlet. "Slow to delete shill porn. Big names denying Trump wants anything to do with it. Alienating liberals by defining itself as a conservative echo chamber. Another fart in the wind.”
Because if anyone knows anything about blowing hot air – well, other than Borat 2 star Rudy Giuliani in a Michigan courtroom during a voter fraud hearing (allegedly) – it's definitely QAnon.
2. Secure Your S--t
Aside from GETTR's porn problem – or, well, exciting interactive feature depending on how you roll, we don't kink shame here – it seems privacy and vulnerability to hacking has also been a problem among these sites. In January, an “absurdly basic bug" on right-wing social platform Parler, as Wired called it, led to several hackers archiving nearly every post on the site. Although as the outlet noted, rumors swirled that this was the product of a sophisticated, Mr. Robot-level attack involving a glitch in the site's two-factor authentication, it seems the reality was far less fantastical than Reddit's collective imagination.
“The truth was far simpler,” wrote Wired's Andy Greenberg. “Parler lacked the most basic security measures that would have prevented the automated scraping of the site's data. It even ordered its posts by number in the site's URLs, so that anyone could have easily, programmatically downloaded the site's millions of posts.”
In March, Gab, another right-wing platform, was also hit with a major hack, in which 70 gigabytes of data, including 40 million posts – public and private, as well as private messages and passwords, were obtained by whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets, The Verge reported. While this information was not released publicly, the group says they shared it with social scientists, reporters and researchers, citing the information's seeming historical importance.
“In a simpler or more ordinary time, it’d be an important sociological resource,” the group explained in a blog post on their wiki page. “In 2021, it’s also a record of the culture and the exact statements surrounding not only an increase in extremist views and actions, but an attempted coup.”
And they're not wrong – someday we'll all have to explain the racist co-opting of Pepe the Frog to our kids for a history class essay. The future, folks!
3. You need an opponent to garner online clout
Another downside of these apps, as well as their left-wing counterparts, is that watching one side yell into an echo chamber only has so much entertainment value. Less entertaining than watching one side repeat themselves over, and over again into the digital void, however, is apparently one man angrily posting from the office at his Floridian compound, a lesson we gleaned with the demise of former President Trump's blog.
After getting booted from the Oval Office and Twitter last January, Trump decided to take after all of us in the mid-2000's, launching a blog entitled “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” Despite the popularity – and metrics-boosting controversy – surrounding his posts on major social media platforms, 45's new medium wasn't nearly as well received.
“Trump’s new blog has attracted a little over 212,000 engagements, defined as backlinks and social interactions — including likes, shares and comments — received across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit,” wrote NBC News, referencing data compiled by social media analytics group, BuzzSumo. The site also noted that prior to his Twitter ban "a single Trump tweet was typically liked and retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.”
So how unpopular, exactly, was 45's site? According to a report from the Washington Post, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump" was less popular than Petfinder and diet site Eat This Not That. Ouch.
To quote anchor Ari Melber during an episode of his MSNBC show, “As a matter of metrics, audience, readers, every single way they measure blogs—it’s a failure,”
So, folks, next time no one reads your blog post, remember, you're not alone – and it's not 2005 anymore, come on, get on social media (presuming you haven't been kicked off for allegedly fueling a deadly insurrection at our nation's capitol).
Top Image: Shutterstock