Every Deleted Parler Post, Many With Users’ Location Data, Has Been Archived. Parler goes down. Still can’t export your Whatsapp history.

In the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher began an effort to catalogue the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by her Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence. According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, among other sources, Parler is one of a several apps used by the insurrections to coordinate their breach of the Capitol, in a plan to overturn the 2020 election results and keep Donald Trump in power.

Five people died in the attempt.

Hoping to create a lasting public record for future researchers to sift through, @donk_enby began by archiving the posts from that day. The scope of the project quickly broadened, however, as it became increasingly clear that Parler was on borrowed time. Apple and Google announced that Parler would be removed from their app stores because it had failed to properly moderate posts that encouraged violence and crime. The final nail in the coffin came Saturday when Amazon announced it was pulling Parler’s plug.

In an email first obtained by BuzzFeed News, Amazon officials told the company they planned to boot it from its clouding hosting service, Amazon Web Services, saying it had witnessed a “steady increase” in violent content across the platform. “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service,” the email read.

Operating on little sleep, @donk_enby began the work of archiving all of Parler’s posts, ultimately capturing around 99.9 percent of its content. In a tweet early Sunday, @donk_enby said she was crawling some 1.1 million Parler video URLs. “These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” she said. Included in this data tranche, now more than 56 terabytes in size, @donk_enby confirmed that the raw video files include GPS metadata pointing to exact locations of where the videos were taken.

@donk_enby later shared a screenshot showing the GPS position of a particular video, with coordinates in latitude and longitude.

The privacy implications are obvious, but the copious data may also serve as a fertile hunting ground for law enforcement. Federal and local authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in recent days accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, where a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, was fatally wounded after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

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Kirtaner, creator of 420chan — a.k.a. Aubrey Cottle — reported obtaining 6.3 GB of Parler user data from an unsecured AWS server in November. The leak reportedly contained passwords, photos and email addresses from several other companies as well. Parler CEO John Matze later claimed to Business Insider that the data contained only “public information” about users, which had been improperly stored by an email vendor whose contract was subsequently terminated over the leak. (This leak is separate from the debunked claim that Parler was “hacked” in late November, proof of which was determined to be fake.)

In December, Twitter suspended Kirtaner for tweeting, “I’m killing Parler and its fucking glorious,” citing its rules against threatening “violence against an individual or group of people.” Kirtaner’s account remains suspended despite an online campaign urging Twitter’s safety team to reverse its decision. Gregg Housh, an internet activist involved in many early Anonymous campaigns, noted online that the tweet was “not aimed at a person and [was] not actually violent.”

Source: Every Deleted Parler Post, Many With Users’ Location Data, Has Been Archived

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