Pro-Trump social media network Gettr allowing child abuse images to proliferate on platform - report

A study found a 'significant' number of Gettr's user base is spam accounts.
A study found a 'significant' number of Gettr's user base is spam accounts. Photo credit: Getty Images

Images of child abuse are not being removed from the Gettr social media platform, a study has found.

The pro-Donald Trump 'free speech' network has had a number of issues since it launched in early July. In the first week it was flooded with anime pornography and images of topless old men in white underwear, while some of the higher-profile accounts were hacked.

Then it became a hotbed for Islamic State supporters taking advantage of the lack of moderation to post images of beheadings and memes promoting violence against the West.

Now, a research report from Stanford Internet Observatory's Cyber Policy Centre says the lack of automated scanning systems on the networks has allowed the "proliferation of gratuitous adult content, spam and, unfortunately, child exploitation imagery (CEI)."

Report authors David Thiel and Miles McCain found that Gettr doesn't appear to use any kind of sensitive content detection. By using Google's SafeSearch API they found 0.9 percent of posts with media and 1.8 percent of comments with media were classified as "likely to contain violent or adult content".

And, because the platform doesn't use standardised industry tools to detect CEI - instead relying on the community to report sensitive and illegal child-related content - moderation isn't sufficient.

"Users may also not be aware of the reporting mechanisms themselves, or even what content qualifies as 'child-related crime' - particularly given the fabricated child-related crime conspiracies that flourish on Gettr and similar platforms," Thiel and McCain wrote.

PhotoDNA is one such tool, used for detecting child pornography and other illegal content which is then reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

A sample of images from Gettr matched 16 images against PhotoDNA's images, leading Stanford Internet Observatory to report them to NCMEC.

The authors also found user growth numbers were likely overstated with spam accounts making up a "significant" part of the user base. Most accounts appear largely idle, they wrote.

And while it markets itself as a "non-bias social network" Gettr, "in some ways is more restrictive with content policy than the platforms it contrasts itself with."

"Porn remains on the platform while users were at launch prevented from using relatively mild expletives," they wrote.

They also concluded demographics were similar to that of other right-wing social networks, like Parler, with users largely from the United States and Brazil who had been deplatformed by other social media sites.