Enlarge /. A person who browsed Parler in early January when there was content other than vague promises to overcome, being tossed from across the internet and coming back louder than ever.
Right-wing social media platform Parler, which has been offline like a hot potato since Amazon Web Services last week, has re-emerged on the web and promises to return as a fully functional service "soon".
Although the platform's Android and iOS apps are still not working, the URL was resolved again this weekend to an actual website instead of a bug notice. The website currently consists entirely of the home page, which contains a message from CEO John Matze.
“Now seems like the right time to remind all of you – lovers and haters alike – why we started this platform,” the message reads. "We believe that privacy is paramount and freedom of speech is vital, especially on social media. Our goal has always been to create an impartial public space where individuals can enjoy and exercise their rights over both. We will each Solve the challenge ahead and plan to welcome everyone. " back from you soon. We will not let civil discourse go under! "
However, Parler was explicitly desplatformed primarily because the content it allowed to flourish was anything but "bourgeois", and as several reports have made clear, the service backend was designed in such a way that there was essentially no regard for privacy was taken. Meanwhile, the path Parler seems to be taking to get back on the internet seems to be a seedy path paved by other explicitly extremist, white nationalist platforms that lost access to more mainstream services after terrorism to have.
Parler's deplatforming began after the insurgent riot in the U.S. Capitol the week before, when it became clear that a number of Parler users who had used the platform for threats were actually present in the crowd that stormed the building.
The insurgents who gathered in the District of Columbia on January 6th not only planned their attack through social media platforms, but also used those platforms – parlers in particular – while they were at the Capitol. Before, during, and after the events of January 6, many major media outlets reported that the rioters were using Parler to organize.
Google booted Parler from the Android app store on January 8th and pointed out that it had not been able to explicitly remove "monstrous content" that incites violence. Apple followed suit a few hours later and banned Parler from the iOS App Store for failing to eliminate "threats of violence and illegal activity" under the Apple Developer Agreement.
The final blow to Parler came this weekend when AWS stopped providing web hosting services for the platform, calling it a "very real risk to public safety".
Parler turned and sued Amazon over the ban. He applied to the court for immediate reinstatement. So far, however, this lawsuit has only made it clear how much violent content Parler was apparently willing to host, as Amazon's legal response provided (really hideous) evidence of what content Parler had been warned against for months.
About this privacy …
In the roughly 24 hours between Amazon warning Parler that the company's service was about to be discontinued and the platform's final shutdown, a quick-thinking researcher managed to scrape and archive almost all of Parler's public content due to the poor coding options from Parler, not only was she able to access some deleted posts, but also a variety of metadata, including precise GPS locations for user videos.
Researchers, journalists, and law enforcement agencies have since used this data to create a fairly comprehensive picture of what was going on in the Capitol that day – and who was doing it there.
Gizmodo quickly used the GPS data to compile a map showing that hundreds of videos were sent to Parler on Jan. 6 from the Capitol grounds or inside the building. Another researcher created an interactive map that linked the videos to the location pins for easy viewing. And over the weekend, ProPublica released a comprehensive timeline of 500+ videos by Parler to show the day's events, from President Donald Trump's speech near the White House to the eventual breakup of the mob that early evening.
Federal authorities have already arrested more than a hundred people in connection with the Capitol attack. Court documents show that many of the suspects currently under arrest used social media, including Parler, to share pictures, videos or live broadcasts of their alleged crimes.
The way back to visibility
Parler apparently secured Epik hosting to get itself back online. Epik is best known for helping right-wing extremist platform Gab to go back online soon after a Gab user committed mass murder in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. It has also provided services to other white nationalist, anti-Semitic, and neo-Nazi platforms, including 8chan (now known as 8kun) and The Daily Stormer.
Several security researchers have also indicated that Parler apparently secured the services of DDoS-Guard, a Russia-based cloud service company.
Cyber security expert Brian Krebs published an analysis of potential legal obligations that DDoS-Guard could face due to its customer list in the United States last year. Krebs called the list "revelatory" and stated that it contains "a large number of phishing sites and domains linked to cybercrime services or forums".
In particular, DDoS-Guard also offers hosting services for Hamas, which the USA has classified as a terrorist organization for more than 20 years.