The pro-Trump social media network Gettr (which Trump is not on) has faced an onslaught of issues since its inception. From getting hacked, to losing the email addresses of all users it’s… kind of a mess. But the mess goes even deeper than that. This report both summarizes on-site data and dives into a sketchy cryptocurrency scheme connected to a far-right fugitive billionaire found heavily advertised on Gettr.
A new report from Stanford IO, also covered by Vice, reveals a preponderance of child sexual abuse material on Gettr that would’ve been found with a service like PhotoDNA, had they implemented child abuse filters before launching an “anti-censorship” social network. The “non-bias” app also seems able to moderate leftists to some extent but unable to effectively moderate Islamic fundamentalists groups. Research suggests they have very little ability to actually moderate harmful content at scale beyond user submitted content flags. However, the free speech network does moderate curse words and “using the Lord’s name in vain.”
The origins of Gettr are also very concerning though. It was launched on July 1, 2021 by former Donald Trump spokesman Jason Miller. While many have reported on Jason Miller, less has been said about the depths of Gettr’s connection to fugitive anti-CCP billionaire (Miles) Guo Wengui who runs a Bannon supported media outlet called G-TV. Deepening the connections, Bannon was even arrested for corruption on Guo’s boat. Graphika released a detailed study called “Ants in a Web” about Guo’s elaborate and multi-platform disinformation campaigns around such topics as Covid-19 and QAnon as well as organizing harassment campaigns. However, the SMAT community noticed something that no one has pointed out: records of the “ants” in the early development of Gettr including GTVorg records in the API, Guo properties in a build server, and links to their Jira.
At the time of writing this we have 13,052,239 posts from Gettr. However, 4,463,488 of them have labels that we assume mean they are tweets (“uinf.twt_flg” not null) from their efforts to import tweets which were eventually blocked by Twitter. This leaves around 8,588,751 posts supposedly from Gettr itself which started in July when the forum's previous life in the Guo-sphere was wiped. As written by Stanford IO:
“Gettr went through several iterations before its July launch. The platform was under development by a Guo-linked development team since at least early February under the name “Getter” and previously launched as the Chinese app “Getome” in June.”
If we look at the self-written locations attached to user accounts we see a preponderance of users claiming to be primarily from Brazil and the United States which matches the findings of Stanford IO.
Another of the data fields is for what type of “influencer” (“uinf.infl”) an account is. Stanford IO notes:
“For most users, this field is null, but ≈1600 users have a value of 1, making them the most common “influencer” type (see Table 18 on the next page). There are only 15 type 4 influencers (Table 19 on the following page) which include investors and those involved in the commercial operation of Gettr itself. “
Jair Bolsonaro is the third highest (number of followers) type 1 influencer and Flávio Bolsonaro is the 9th. Alongside the large body of accounts labeled as being in Brazil, it is interesting to note that Jason Miller was recently detained in Brazil as part of a trial against “anti-democratic actions” after meeting with Bolsonaro. Just beneath Bolsonaro in popularity is Marjorie Taylor Greene, best known as a (supposedly former) QAnon supporter and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, who has made racist videos and won a GOP nod in Georgia. Additionally, among the 15 type 4 influencers first noted by Stanford IO, several are directly Guo related showing the ongoing influence of Guo on Gettr. The most popular accounts by followers are mostly all US conservatives.
The US Himalayas
When Gettr was launched in July, the old posts and users from the Guo-sphere website were wiped but many users quickly rebuilt accounts and began posting and forming the early activity on Gettr. Using SMAT data to isolate the first comments to appear after Getter was wiped reveals fascinating rabbit holes. The first 15 posts to appear on the new Gettr were all pro-Guo accounts spamming his various projects, political views, and videos of him. A common theme deduced from this data was the “New Federal State of China” which was an attempt to overthrow the CCP from NYC launched with help from Guo’s buddy Steve Bannon.
Guo Wengui marks the declaration of “The New Federal State of China” with his own blood during a live-streamed ceremony with Steve Bannon (image pulled from Youtube broadcast via Graphika report)
But another common theme was constant references to the Himalayas. Scanning over the platform we see a large number of pro-Guo accounts with Himalaya in their username. But the most interesting piece of this was posts about something called the “Himalaya Exchange.”
Landing page for himalaya.exchange “in just a few taps you can buy Himalaya Coin & Himalaya Dollar.”
The Himalaya exchange is a platform for exchanging between US Dollars and two cryptocurrencies called “Himalaya Coin(HCN)” and “Himalaya(HDO).” They state that:
“The Himalaya Dollar (HDO) is an Ethereum-based ERC-1404 token that has backward compatibility to the ERC-20. Our stable coin fixed to the United States Dollar (USD) with the backing of a Reserve consisting of USD and cash-equivalent assets.”
They go on to claiming that they are “the world’s first true crypto ecosystem.” despite the fact that they’re just another Ethereum stable coin. They claim that buying in is currently “invite only” but with the goal of a US Dollar based crypto community designed to undermine the CCP. The website itself gives no indication of being part of the Guo ecosystem but if you listen to Guo speeches he is Evangelical about it using the word “we” via his own Gnews (the white paper is also advertised on Gnews):
“The CCP is afraid that we join together and become members of the G-Club; it is afraid that we have the Himalaya Dollar and Himalaya Coin; it is afraid that we have an international pass. Most importantly, it is afraid that we can represent Chinese Lao Bai Xing [commoners]! ... I have not told our fellow fighters the real value of the Himalaya Dollar (HDO), Himalaya Coin (HCN), and Himalaya Exchange yet.”
When we dig into their Terms and Conditions legal document, many more interesting details emerge. We can find three organizations: Himalaya International Payments Ltd (for the eventual app “Himalaya Pay”), Himalaya International Clearing Ltd, & Himalaya International Reserves Ltd all registered to the Virgin Islands. The claim to have a reserve of USD likely held in the Himalaya International Reserves Ltd, which the HDO is backed by. Himalaya International Financial Group Ltd is:
“issuing a certain amount that is available for subscription via registration. The initial offering of HCN is being conducted on a private placement basis, by invitation only, and will not be available to all members of the public. Only pre-notified persons ("Private Placement Participants") may participate in the initial sale of HCN Credits.”
In terms of where the coins are recommended or legally able to be used, they claim to have not filed with the US SEC because ‘no US persons are involved’ and that ‘US persons are not legally permitted to purchase or sell the coins’ though the entire exchange is based on the US dollar. One naturally wonders how Guo, whose last known location was the US, could manage to be not involved in this or benefitting from it in some way especially considering the connections of it to his speeches and Gnews. Guo has faced legal action in the past with the US SEC over thematically related equity dealings (similar incidents in Australia and New Zealand).
Using SMAT helps find the rabbit holes and mysteries embedded in the data we offer. In this case, digging into Gettr data on SMAT exposes a network of eyebrow raising investment schemes tied to a fugitive Chinese-billionaire. As Gettr continues to fail their duty to both users and vulnerable persons, greater scrutiny of the impact of their platform can help to further efforts of accountability.
Note: For researchers using our API data, descriptions of the meaning of each of the fields in the JSON blobs can be found on pages 5 and 6 of the Stanford IO report on Gettr. Also, Gettr used to allow Twitter users to import their follower counts but platform specific followers can be distinguished.