Trumpworld’s Anti–Big Tech App Gettr Still Tracks Users for Facebook

New research says that Gettr contains trackers from Facebook and Google.

Jan 11 2022, 5:01pm
Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard's podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.

Gettr, the social media platform that bills itself as a way to escape Big Tech, actually includes trackers and features from companies like Facebook and Google, according to new research.

The news muddies Gettr’s pitch as an alternative to companies like Facebook, but it also shows just how pervasive Big Tech, in its many forms, is. The app still contains various trackers from Silicon Valley.

“The gettr.com web app loads tracking cookies and pixels from Google and Facebook that create unique identifiers for individual users,” the research, published by Talk Liberation Investigates, a publication linked to forthcoming social media app Panquake, reads. Gettr also uses smaller analytic tools like AppsFlyer and Countly, according to the research.

Do you have any more information on Gettr? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Sean O’Brien, CSO of Panquake.com and founder of Privacy Lab at Yale Law School, conducted the technical analysis.

As noted in the research, Gettr does disclose in its privacy policy that it uses Google Analytics.

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“We may use Third-Party Services such as Google Analytics to help us analyze our performance and our delivery of Services and advertising to you,” it reads.

Tracking cookies and pixels are pervasive across the internet and are, generally speaking, used by tech companies to monitor user behavior across websites, allowing them to better target advertisements.

Gettr launched last July as an apparent alternative to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Its criticism of those platforms is primarily on the perceived bias it sees them wielding by banning certain accounts, especially Republican or right-leaning ones.

“This is about world shaping for them,” Gettr CEO Jason Miller recently said. Miller was previously a senior adviser to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

Miller told Motherboard in a statement that “This report gets a lot of things wrong, and a more responsible fact-check on the front-end would have helped the author avoid any unnecessary confusion. Unlike the Big Tech social media platforms, GETTR does not sell user data, and we are committed to protecting users from Big Tech’s overreach and political discrimination. On GETTR, everyone is treated the same regardless of ideology. We’re a safe space for free speech, independent thought and very importantly, user data. That's the difference between us and our Silicon Valley competitors.” (Big Tech companies, as commonly understood, typically don’t sell user data).

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“These so-called trackers are only used for targeted Facebook and Google ads that we run to promote GETTR, and as part of our remarketing efforts designed to encourage people to return to our platform. This information is not shared with anyone else. As for data analytics, they are strictly used for internal quality assurance and customer experience improvement purposes only,” he added.

Gettr received support from a slew of high-profile figures, many of whom have been banned from other platforms or have otherwise had issues with those platforms’ content moderation decisions. They include Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was banned from Twitter this month, and Sean Hannity. Most recently, media giants Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson have joined Gettr.

“Just in case shit over at Twitter gets even dumber, I’m here now as well. Rejoice!,” Rogan wrote on Gettr last week.

Shortly after it launched, hackers were able to scrape 90,000 Gettr user email addresses and other data from the service.

Update: This piece has been updated to include a response from Gettr CEO Jason Miller.

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JOE ROGAN, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Social Media, CYBER

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