Parler Crawls Back Onto the Internet After Being Outlawed by Big Tech

Parler Crawls Back Onto the Internet After Being Outlawed by Big Tech

Right-wing social media platform Parler has crawled back onto the internet with the help of a terrorist-affiliated Russian cloud company.

Right-wing social media platform Parler has crawled back onto the internet with the help of a terrorist-affiliated Russian cloud company.

Credit | New York Times

It seems as though the right-wing affiliated Parler has returned to the land of the living, after being previously removed from the App Store, Play Store, with service shut down by Amazon Web Services. The company promised to return ‘soon,’ and it looks as though they did not lie.

While the app is still not available, the website is, as CEO John Matze has managed to bring the site back online. With a new announcement, the only page available currently is the homepage, the sole survivor of Parler’s sudden demise.

The message read:

“Now seems like the right time to remind you all—both lovers and haters—why we started this platform; We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential, especially on social media. Our aim has always been to provide a nonpartisan public square where individuals can enjoy and exercise their rights to both. We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon. We will not let civil discourse perish!”

Hasta luego, Parler

Parler’s removal from the mainland existence of social media started after the insurrectionist riots at the US Capitol, after it had been discovered that many Parler users had used the platform to publicly make threats beforehand. Those same people were later caught through video and audio to have actually rioted against the Capitol, putting the site into the forefront.

Rioters not only planned out the January 6th attack on Parler, but also continued to use the platform while attacking, geographic data that’s now available to law enforcement. Many news outlets covered this piece of information, throwing the growing service into the spotlight.

Google was the first to take action against Parler, banning it from the Play Store, their first-party app store. The reasoning behind this ban was that Parler had “failed to take down explicitly egregious content that incited violence.”

Apple followed suit, only a few hours later, suspending the platform from the App Store, on grounds of failing to remove ‘threats of violence and illegal activity,’ a quick ban for many apps.

The third, and final blow for Parler, was when Amazon shut off Parler’s web-hosting service through their Amazon Web Service subsidiary. This effectively cut Parler off of the internet entirely, meaning that even if you kept the app after it was removed, you could no longer access content through the app.

As Amazon’s choice was the final blow for Parler, the company publicly released their email to Parler, saying that

“It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service; You remove some violent content when contacted by us or others, but not always with urgency. Your CEO recently stated publicly that he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this, and neither should the platform”; It’s our view that this nascent plan to use volunteers to promptly identify and remove dangerous content will not work in light of the rapidly growing number of violent posts.”

This devastating email pushed Parler to take Amazon to court, claming that the company deserved immediately reinstatement onto AWS, as well as owed monetary compensation. The company also pushed for monopoly suits against Amazon as well.

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When data collection goes wrong

While Parler had obviously attempted to absolve themselves of any and all liability behind the riot, the data that the company theoretically doesn’t collect, says otherwise.

In the 24 hours between Amazon’s announcement of AWS’ shutdown of Parler, and the final time, a quick-thinking researcher managed to pick up 99% of Parler’s posts and data, with over 80 terabytes collected. This data, poorly concealed behind Parler’s poor coding structure, including tons of metadata, such as incredibly precise GPS locations for videos uploaded to the service.

A combination of researchers, law enforcement officials, and news sources have been able to use that data to pull together a pretty coherent picture of Parler’s users’ involvement in the riot, as well as creating a picture between the users’ posts and where they ended up.

Gizmodo even took the next step, by creating a map that showed hundreds of Parler-uploaded videos originating from the Capitol. More news sources created other maps, correlating certain uploads with their appropriate uploaded metadata. Through this information, law enforcement has been able to make hundreds of arrests connected to the attack, ironically all possible with the help of Parler’s poor coding.

When the dead rise

Even with all of the effort that companies and servics have gone through to remove Parler from the internet, the small company has fought back hard. They’re apparently enlisted Epik for hosting, the provider best known for hosting extremist platform Gab. 

Epik was the company that brought Gab back onto the internet after the service was shutdown following a Gab user’s decision to commit mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The company also provides services to white nationalists, anti-Semitic groups, Nazist platforms, and the Daily Stormer.

Parler is also rumored to have secured the services of DDoS-Guard, a Russian cloud services company. DG’s customers include a “vast number of phishing sites and domains tied to cybercrime services or forums.” The company is most notably connected to Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization.