Gettr, the MAGA-minded social media platform that recently saw a big spike in membership, seems to be on a mission to get hacked. Or at least, that’s what you’d be led to believe by the company’s reported decision to fire pretty much everybody in charge of making sure the company doesn’t get hacked.
On Dec. 28, Gettr mystifyingly laid off its entire cybersecurity team and IT staff and apparently hasn’t replaced any of them since that time, according to former employees who spoke to the Washington Examiner. The outlet reports:
Social media upstart GETTR fired over a dozen staff members late last year, including two key executives and its entire IT and cybersecurity teams, amid rapid growth and what former employees said were funding problems.
Among the purged were the company’s chief information officer and its chief information security officer, typically two of the most important positions when it comes to keeping a company—particularly a tech company—running safely and smoothly. Even weirder, the firings occurred less than three months after the positions were originally filled, the Examiner writes.
Speaking with the outlet, a former Gettr employee didn’t hold back on what they felt was a culture of mismanagement and ineptitude at the tech platform. “In all honesty, in all my years of doing cybersecurity, I’ve never seen a company this poorly run from business operations all the way to IT,” the employee apparently told the Examiner. “It looks like a high school operation.” We reached out to the tech company about all these claims and will update our story if they respond.
Blame for the recent IT purge is ultimately laid not at the feet of Gettr’s CEO, former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller, but at those of its financial backer, Chinese billionaire and rightwing mystery man Guo Wengui. “Jason Miller played no part in the decision, it was all Guo,” a former Gettr IT executive told the Examiner of the firings. Last summer, The Daily Beast reported that Guo had helped provide initial funding to Gettr via one of his foundations and that circumstances suggested that the platform was actually “Guo’s brainchild.”
Why Guo would insist on laying off the team most responsible for keeping the platform running is unfathomable, though the Examiner article mentions that the company is currently undergoing “financial problems”—potentially from its recent spurt of “rapid growth” paired with oblique “funding problems.” The Examiner also writes that, when they were fired, employees were told that Gettr “could no longer afford to employ them and was undergoing a major restructuring.”
A bit like a gilded phantom, Wengui (who also goes by the American moniker Miles Kwok) seems to be involved in a whole lot of different things but exactly why he is involved in any of them often remains something of a mystery. A Chinese ex-pat who fled the country in 2014 shortly before being accused of rape and other crimes, Wengui has since established himself as an anti-Communist activist and right-wing debutant. A big buddy of libertarian “populist” spin-master and conservative philosopher-king Steve Bannon, Wengui has increasingly been tied to a morass of Washington D.C. intrigue. A 2021 report from social media analysis firm Graphika blamed the billionaire for a massive misinformation network in the U.S. designed to amplify Covid-19 vaccine doubt and promote 2020 election conspiracy theories. He has alternately been characterized as an anti-China whistleblower, a secret pro-China double-agent, a corrupt stooge, and a criminal.
In short: Who fucking knows with this guy? To bring things back to Gettr: Does it make sense to inject megatons of money into a startup and then take said startup out at the knees by firing its most essential staff? No, not really. But then again, Wengui doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Go figure.
One thing is certain: If Gettr doesn’t re-hire a cybersecurity team soon or, ya know, just a couple of IT folks, it’s seriously opening itself up to the possibility of getting hacked. The emergent right-wing tech sector doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to securing data and I have a hard time believing that Gettr, now bereft of any digital security, will be the exception.