Before Parler went offline early Monday, a researcher says she archived 99 percent of its posts, Gizmodo reported. The researcher, identified only by her Twitter handle, @donk_enby, started archiving Parler posts after the January 6th attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC that left six people dead.
Parler has been identified as one of the sites where people who participated in the riot planned and coordinated the attack on the Capitol. @donk_enby says she began cataloging Parler posts on January 6th in an attempt to create a public record. That effort had to be accelerated when Amazon announced on Saturday it was pulling web hosting services from the site for violating its terms of service.
Posts on Parler encouraged violence, leading to last Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol, and even in the days afterward, there were posts warning that Trump supporters would return to Washington on January 19th for more violence. “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match,” one user wrote.
@donk_enby said on Twitter that the effort to archive Parler posts was akin to “a bunch of people running into a burning building trying to grab as many things as we can.” She added that “things will be available in a more accessible form later.”
Parler suffered a data breach — the extent of which is still not clear — back in November, which it blamed on a third-party vendor. Business Insider reported at the time that a misconfigured Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud server was to blame for inadvertently exposing Parler users’ data. Parler said no personal user data was exposed. But the breach put a spotlight on some concerning privacy practices at the company; for instance, in order to get a “verified” Parler account, users had to provide their Social Security numbers and upload a photo ID image. The company said it deleted the information once users had been vetted.
The newly scraped data, however, shows videos uploaded to Parler with GPS data, some of which had been deleted and some of which were private. It also has information about site admins.
Amazon told Parler it was terminating web hosting services late Saturday. Its AWS “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” the letter to the company states, adding that Parler “poses a very real risk to public safety.”
The move followed bans from Google and Apple, both of which kicked Parler out of their app stores, effectively decimating its mobile app.
Parler launched in 2018, presenting itself as a free speech alternative to other social media sites. As Twitter and Facebook tightened their moderation policies, especially around election and coronavirus information, Parler’s user numbers soared, with its less-strict moderation policies appealing to many users.
Parler CEO John Matze wrote in a post on Parler late Saturday that he believes Amazon, Google, and Apple “worked together to try and ensure they don’t have competition,” adding “They will NOT win! We are the worlds last hope for free speech and free information.” He had pledged to rebuild the site from scratch and said it would be back online within a week.
But on Sunday, Matze posted that “most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us,” telling Fox News even its lawyers had abandoned the company. “Every vendor, from text message services to email providers to our lawyers, all ditched us too, on the same day,” Matze said.