Far-Right Platform Gab Hit With a Massive Hack
Data belonging to Alex Jones, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell may be included
A hacker targeted far-right social network Gab and stole more than 70 gigabytes of user data, including 40 million posts and private messages, Wired reported on Sunday.
The hacker identifies as “JaXpArO and My Little Anonymous Revival Project” and “siphoned that data out of Gab’s backend databases in an effort to expose the platform’s largely right-wing users,” according to Wired. The data was reportedly retrieved through an SQL injection vulnerability, allowing the hacker to interfere with Gab’s backend database.
Included in the dataset are more than 70,000 messages and more than 19,000 chats by roughly 15,000 users. Some of this content includes items posted to private profiles and groups. Also included are user and group passwords. (The passwords were reportedly cryptographically hashed, Wired noted, meaning they had been scrambled into a different, unreadable string.)
The hack was revealed on Sunday night by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a data transparency collective of researchers and journalists. DDoSecrets is calling the trove GabLeaks and is distributing the data on a limited basis to journalists, academics, and researchers, the group wrote in a Monday statement. It says that while the dataset is an important historical artifact, it also comes with significant privacy concerns, in part related to “the presence of passwords and other PII,” which is why it is being shared selectively.
“It’s another gold mine of research for people looking at militias, neo-Nazis, the far right, QAnon, and everything surrounding January 6,” DDoSecrets co-founder Emma Best told Wired. Gab has long harbored white supremacists and far-right extremists and is known for platforming the anti-Semitic gunman responsible for the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting in 2018.
Gab was one of the first “alternative social networks” to market itself against moderation efforts by Facebook and Twitter that targeted right-wing hate speech and extremism. Among this ecosystem are sites like Parler, MeWe, Rumble, and Clapper, all of which have less stringent moderation policies, with some openly disregarding calls for violence by users. Though these sites were never a perfect replacement for their larger counterparts, all witnessed growth spurts throughout the remaining months of Trump’s presidency when right-wing extremists were encouraged to mobilize by the highest levels of government.
Wired reported that among the users whose hashed passwords appeared to be included in the Gab hack were Republican congresswoman and QAnon propagandist Marjorie Taylor Greene, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Alex Jones, and an account that existed for Donald Trump. (Although Trump has never used Gab, the company created an account for the former president, where it reposted tweets from @realDonaldTrump for years.)
Gab has accused the Wired reporter of “essentially assisting the hacker in his efforts to smear our business,” in a blog post published in response to the reporter reaching out for comment.
Following the Capitol riots in January, Gab reported a 40% increase in traffic and claimed to have been gaining more than 10,000 users per hour, Business Insider reported. The site also welcomed users who were deplatformed after Parler was cut off by Amazon Web Services that month for failing to curtail violent and abusive content.
Gab has been banned from the App Store and Google Play since 2017 for violating hate speech policies.