I don’t normally revel in the suffering of others, but I’m willing to make an exception for what’s happening right now with Parler.
Parler is a social network for anyone who’s too big of an asshole for Twitter, which is saying something. For the last two-ish years it’s functioned as a righter-wing alternative to other social media, culminating in accusations that it was used to coordinate some of the violence in DC last week.
Now it’s been ditched by various app stores and web services that it needs to exist. And hilariously, due to some particularly egregious security holes, hackers claim to have downloaded all of the content that was posted on the site, including content that was supposedly deleted — content that ties users to incriminating content they posted on the site. A big whoops all around for everyone!
Exactly what was Parler’s role in last week’s riot? It’s not quite clear — there hasn’t been a truly thorough accounting — but clearly there was enough of a threat that Apple and Amazon and Google wanted to distance themselves. Amazon noted “a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” Apple said the site was “used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” and Google said there was “egregious content” that was insufficiently moderated.
(Just a sidenote here, if I can get all "whattabout" for just a moment: How is any of that not also the case for Facebook?)
Anyway, so now Parler is down, but it gets even better according to a researcher who tweets as Donk_Enby. (She also currently tweets under the username “Crash Override,” which is a Zoë Quinn reference — this is a looooong story, but Zoë was an early target of the online mob that coalesced into a harassment campaign by bitter gamers and then in the ensuing years morphed into a generalized right-wing blob.)
Donk_Enby, and I will never get tired of typing that name, says that she was able to archive about 99% of the content on the site. What does that include? Ohhhh so much good stuff, according to Donk Enby, starting with GPS positioning data attached to images and video and government-issued IDs. A prosecutor simply couldn’t ask for a more self-incriminating gift box.
(Some early rumors indicated that the archiving was possible because Parler stopped verifying logins and allowed anyone to create an admin account; now it’s looking like that’s not actually the case, and the archiving was instead possible because the site made a very convenient index of everyone’s uploads, including supposedly-deleted stuff.)
So what kind of position does that leave Parler in? The short answer is “a very bad position.” The long answer is also “a very bad position,” but with lots of cackling laughter.
Parler has now filed an anti-trust suit against Amazon, which honestly I wish more companies did but haha good luck going up against that army of lawyers. Parler claims without evidence that Amazon is motivated by “political animus,” but I wonder if they might also be motivated by the fact that Parler users were calling for the bombing of Amazon facilities.