Some Parler Users Don’t Believe They’ve Been Hacked — They’re Blaming Amazon Instead

’Guaranteed not a hack’

Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Before Parler went offline Monday morning, a hacker reportedly downloaded all the data that users had shared to the platform, including images, video, and deleted posts mentioning the assault on the Capitol last week, Motherboard reported.

Now, some Trump supporters who have fled to MeWe and Telegram are insisting the hack is “fake news,” and are baselessly claiming it was coordinated by Twitter and Amazon Web Services to dissuade people from using Parler, in the event that it returns. Messages viewed by OneZero show conservatives trying to dismiss the archiving of their posts as a subversive attempt by major tech companies to bring Parler down.

Meanwhile, the Parler data is currently being downloaded and processed, Motherboard noted.

“Twitter is trying to convince ppl that Parler is unsafe and hacked to keep Patriots from going there,” one person wrote in a Telegram chat called “Parler Lifeboat,” which has roughly 15,700 members.

“Guaranteed not a hack,” wrote another person in the chat. “AWS leak.”

A hacker who goes by the Twitter handle @donk_enby told Gizmodo they first downloaded every Parler post from January 6, the day of the attempted coup in Washington, D.C. Motherboard reported that @donk_enby reverse engineered Parler’s iOS app “in order to find a web address that the application uses internally to retrieve data.” She decided to archive every post shared to the platform after Amazon Web Services told Parler it would no longer host the site due to its inability to police violence and hate speech, BuzzFeed News reported on Saturday.

A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services did not immediately respond to OneZero’s request for comment.

Roughly 99.9% of all Parler content has been archived, Gizmodo wrote, and @donk_enby has since established a crowdsourcing effort for downloading the content. Processed data will be uploaded to the Internet Archive, “where anyone will be able to view or download it — including the open-source intelligence community and law enforcement agencies,” Motherboard wrote.

The reality of these privacy implications has yet to fully sink in among Trump supporters who relied on Parler for its unwillingness to moderate things like hate speech, calls for violence, and racism.

“I think the Parler hacking rumors are to destroy their reputation,” one MeWe user wrote in the private chat for a Stop the Steal group with more than 20,000 members.

Though Parler touts itself as a “free speech” replacement for Twitter, its functionality is vastly different. To become verified, Parler users are required to submit a scan of their government-issued ID along with a selfie. The platform’s virtual token system notes that it may also necessitate a user’s social security number or tax identification number.

It does not appear as if Parler users’ IDs or social security numbers were included in the hack, however. “Only things that were available publicly via the web were archived,” @donk_enby tweeted on Monday. “i don’t have you [sic] e-mail address, phone or credit card number. unless you posted it yourself on parler.”

Still, many on Parler have been prompted to publicly post personal data, such as their emails and phone numbers. For example, Georgia representative and “Qanon candidate” Marjorie Taylor Green asked followers to share their contact information on Parler “in case you or I get banned.”

“I don’t care if they know who I am,” one user posted to a Stop the Steal Telegram chat of nearly 1,000 members. “I want them to know that I am one of those coming for them.”

Staff writer at OneZero covering social platforms, internet communities, and the spread of misinformation online. Previously: VICE

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