On Tuesday, Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who runs a Chinese-language media network with Trump adviser Steve Bannon, posted a video on his site GNEWS reminding viewers to back up their social media posts on GETTR.
“Today I have to post this video on our G-TV to inform everybody that everything is fine, because the GETTR platform is adjusting,” he said in Mandarin, according to an English translation posted on the site. “GETTR is not ours, so we should follow the instructions. Right? GETTR is cleaning up all the data and accounts. Afterwards, everybody has to re-register their accounts.”
The site was then wiped.
Two days later, Donald Trump’s former adviser Jason Miller announced that GETTR — a Chinese-language site for dissidents opposing the Chinese Communist Party — would soon launch as a pro-MAGA free-speech social media platform.
GETTR was announced as a brand new social media platform for Trump’s fans, a social media outpost where MAGA types could post freely and, through the mere act of signing up, stick it to Big Tech. It was billed as the logical extension of the former president’s monthslong battle with the major social media companies, two of which had booted him in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6. And though Trump himself had not committed to being on it, it seemed like the type of place where he inevitably would end up after having launched a failed professional blog of his own.
There was one major question: Just where did GETTR come from?
A POLITICO review reveals that prior to it being revealed on Thursday, GETTR had existed for nearly a year as a Chinese-language social media network linked to Guo and G-TV Media, and on which anti-CCP content had been promoted on a regular basis.
Miller told The Daily Beast, which first reported the connection, that Guo’s “family foundation” provided GETTR with early funding. In a separate interview with POLITICO, Miller said that Guo had “no formal role,” had not “contributed any money” and was “not part of the business day to day.” Miller added that “his family foundation is part of the international consortium of investors who gave seed money.”
Previous advertising for GETTR had been posted online before news broke of Miller’s venture. And it included logos for several entities in the G-TV Media Group, a media company owned by both Bannon and Guo. One poster includes the logos for their subsidiaries, G-TV and GNEWS, two sites that have been flagged as vectors of coronavirus and anti-CCP disinformation. An account for GETTR on G-TV, which has the same torch logo as Miller’s GETTR, has been uploading content for more than a year, though much of it is content from G-TV.
Even before its announcement, the GETTR app on Apple had more than 1,200 reviews dating back months, primarily from users praising its anti-CCP stance. “Finally there is a platform for freely disseminating the truth. Thanks to Mr. Wengui who broke the news that the revolution has created such a free-sounding platform,” one user wrote in a review on June 17th.
In the months leading up to GETTR’s reveal, plans for Trump returning to social media frequently hinged on the idea of owning his own Twitter or Facebook-like platform. Trump associates previously told POLITICO that the quickest way to bring him back, and keep him there, would necessitate his owning a majority of the company, if not the entire enterprise. But given the steep cost of building a viable Big Tech competitor from scratch — Twitter, Trump’s biggest competition, burned through hundreds of millions of dollars from launch to profitability over nine years — people involved in Trump’s building of a network had aimed to buy a pre-existing network outright and rebrand it for a MAGA audience.
At face value, GETTR could have been that service. But the choice of Guo’s entity brought with it particularly thorny issues.
G-TV Media has had a rocky history, and was the subject of a federal probe into its fundraising, with the FBI and SEC investigating the company’s $300 million private fundraising round. The links between Guo and Bannon go back years. Famously, Bannon was arrested aboard Guo’s yacht in 2020 over fraud charges related to a separate crowdfunding project to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2019, it was reported that Guo was a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
Guo himself was an active promoter of GETTR, frequently posting daily video blogs onto the site over the past two months, titled “Miles Guo’s Getter” to share his views on China, the coronavirus pandemic and the Biden administration. Those GETTR videos were then cross-posted to GNews and translated into both English and French, according to the site.
In the days leading up to Miller announcing the launch of a MAGA-version of GETTR, several videos appeared on GNEWS and G-TV showing GETTR users how to save their data and eventually upload it to the new platform.
A Twitter user named Dicky Zhang, whose account identifies him as connected to G-TV and GNEWS, also reminded his followers that they needed to back up their GETTR accounts.
“Gettr will officially be launched on July 4th,” he tweeted in English on June 29th. “In order to build it into a multilingual & international platform, we will clear all the data on the platform on June 29th, Eastern US Time, including posts, photos & accounts. Sorry for the inconvenience. Save important information pls.”
Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.