October 31, 2021 Wayne Northey

Spotlight on “Why MAGA Social Media Is a Hacker’s Wet Dream”

The flurry of social media apps aimed at conservatives promise free speech will reign—but more often than not they’re crashing and burning before they can even get going.

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Adam Rawnsley, Senior Researcher; Shannon Vavra, National Security Reporter

Oct. 31, 2021

image above: Optimized Hate

WN: Fools rush in . . .

excerpts:

When a photo of a pig in an obscene position smothered in poop was posted to an account that appeared to belong to former President Donald Trump on his newest social media platform, it was clear that his so-called “Truth Social” had already fallen into a familiar trap.

Like Gab, Parler, and Gettr before it, Truth Social is just the latest alternative conservative social media platform to burst onto the scene and immediately bungle its debut.

And if its predecessors’ public fumbles are any guide, it’s not over yet, because the only thing more inevitable than a new app launch touting free speech is an embarrassing string of hacks, mass scrapes, pranksters taking advantage of loopholes, and content moderation dumpster fires that follow their debut.

These kinds of incidents plague MAGA social media with such regularity that it raises an important question: Why are they all so bad at this?

Experts say that the teams behind the new crop of conservative social media apps demonstrate a critical lack of technical skills, experience in running major social media apps, and interest in or awareness of the kinds of threats that social media platforms face in keeping hackers, creeps, and terrorists from harming their users. And while Trump’s new app has yet to formally launch, security experts aren’t optimistic about how well it will fare against the dark side of the internet.

The security record for pro-MAGA social media apps isn’t pretty.

Gettr, the app launched by former Trump aide Jason Miller, got hacked on the day of its Fourth of July rollout. A hacker ,who goes by the handle JubaBaghdad, crashed the app’s debut by taking over verified accounts for MAGA celebrities Steve Bannon, Mike Pompeo, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. He then used them to push pro-Palestinian political messages.

Just hours later, someone scraped personal data, including email addresses, from 90,000 Gettr users and dumped them on the internet. For Gettr, the problem was with the API, researchers found.

Parler, the social media app founded with money from the wealthy Trump-supporting donors of the Mercer family, suffered similar problems shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection when activists were able to scrape millions of posts and user content left easily accessible to the open web. Parler’s decision not to scrub revealing location data from the videos uploaded by its users allowed anyone to associate Parler user names with their potential homes and workplaces.

And in February, hackers dumped gigabytes of private messages and user data from Gab, a Texas-based far-right network home to a disturbing amount of antisemites and neo-Nazis.

The alt social media app ecosystem suffers from similar problems when it comes to trying to protect users from dangerous content like ISIS beheading propaganda or, in some cases, even child pornography.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba declined to comment on security and privacy guardrails Gab implements, noting in an email, “We only do interviews with Christian media outlets and therefore we have no comment for The Daily Demon.” Gettr, Parler, and Truth Social did not return requests to comment.

Trump’s Truth Social app won’t formally launch until 2022, so it’s still too early to gauge how well the site will handle the security, trust and safety issues that have plagued its predecessors. But even aside from the incident with the barnyard bowel movement, the early signs aren’t encouraging.

Please click on: Why MAGA Social Media Invariably Flop

Wayne Northey

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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