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The Parler purge

Written By: - Date published: 9:04 am, January 12th, 2021 - 87 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, Media, social media lolz, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

Poor Parler and its users.  Where will the right congregate online now and talk about white supremacy and how patriotic it is to engage in armed insurrection?

It was already having a bad week with Google and Apple pulling its app and then Amazon deciding to no longer host its data. But things then got really crazy.

What happened is described by David Gilbert in Vice:

Right-wing social network Parler was taken offline in the early hours of Monday morning, but not before hackers found a way to download all data posted by users — including messages, images, videos, and users’ location data — shared during last week’s attack on the Capitol.

The data taken from Parler is still being processed, but Trump supporters are already voicing their concerns about what the data dump could expose about them and their activity in Washington, D.C. last week.

Imagine the book that could be written from this data.

A hacker who goes by the name Crash Override on Twitter claims they were able to reverse-engineer the Parler iOS app, in order to find a web address that the application uses internally to retrieve data.

That allows the hacker to make a list of all posts, videos, and images uploaded to Parler — including posts that users had deleted, such as those referring to the Capitol attack last Wednesday.

Like most online services, Parler didn’t actually delete user posts; they simply marked them as unviewable and omitted them from search results.

Initially, the hacker worked on downloading the data herself, but when Amazon announced it was going to shut off access, [she] urged her followers to join in by publishing a list of all the posts.

The hacker set up a crowdsourcing system where multiple people could help download the content. The downloaded data is now being processed before being 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.

And the possibility of everything coming out has scared some Trump supporters.

“Bad news. Left extremists have captured and archived over 70TB of data from Parler servers. This includes posts, personal information, locations, videos, images, etc,” a Telegram account called North Central Florida Patriots said on Monday morning.

“The intent is a mass dox and a list to hold patriots ‘accountable’. It is too late to scrub your data, and it’s already archived. There is nothing you can do to prevent what’s already happened. All you can do is prepare for the fallout. Accountability may come in many forms for our free speech, doxing, jobs might be called, addresses leaked and people coming to your house, etc.”

To be honest I am not sure how much effect this will have and it seems like many of the protesters have already doxxed themselves.  And the ethical considerations are complex.  But the fallout will be interesting.

For law enforcement the information is gold.  The US Government has killed people based on metadata.  Photos with time stamps and location data linked back to an individual are wonderful ways to prove who was where and when.  And contemporary information on what they were wearing that can be cross referenced against other photos and videos is wonderful information for law enforcement to have.

As an example this guy has been identified and arrested already.  In part because he took his mum along.  But the data will allow for many more to be identified.

There is a debate to be had about the role of social media in our lives and what has happened here.  And what regulations should be in place in the future.  I am pretty confident that allowing the unfettered spread of fake news and conspiracy theories are not inimical to our collective best interests.

But for now we can all have have a quiet chuckle that the the self styled master race do not appear to be so masterful.

87 comments on “The Parler purge ”

  1. KSaysHi 1

    Authorities already have all the information in the NSA Utah Data Center.

    Wouldn't the news of this hack be used in court to suggest the hacker themselves may have altered the information, thus corrupting any case the NSA had been building?

  2. gsays 2

    You open with a very good question. I get it was meant to be rhetorical, for local audiences, but surely these ideas are better where they can be seen, debated and assessed.
    Racism, hatred, bigotry and anything else undesirable will not go away because it has been ‘deplatformed’.

    • roblogic 2.1

      Oh so we should just take the fatalist approach and let the bullshit and hatred spread like COVID?


      • gsays 2.1.1

        Nothing fatalistic about engaging with someone.

        In fact deplatfirming belongs in the fatalistic file.

        Any examples of prohibition working?

        • McFlock

          Several, actually. Not too many Cathars around these days, for example.

          But deplatforming isn't prohibition. It's refusing to be party to recruitment. "Engaging" with people requires respect and consideration. Giving respect suggests the position is respectable. The very act of polite discourse in the face of obscenity makes that obscenity socially acceptable, and therefore aids recruitment.

          And when Popper comes into play, "engaging with someone" is an act of attempted suicide.

          • gsays

            The intolerance of intolerance conundrum occupied me as I pushed a lawn mower round.

            • McFlock

              Yup. It's a good one.

              • gsays

                I am gonna have to look up Cathars.

                • McFlock

                  A Catholic heresy the pope prohibited 600 years ago. Prohibited with extreme prejudice.

                  I actually read an argument a few years ago that reckoned alcohol prohibition in the US actually worked ok – reckoned that some benchmarks like tonnage drunk, % of regular drinkers, and alcohol related harm decreased. Everyone talks about the lawbreakers, but the argument was that we're only looking at sexy criminals, not the people who went to work every day and stopped drinking during the period. I take it with a grain of salt, but the prohibition does sometimes work.

                  • gsays

                    Oops, doing too many things at once.

                    Currently doing a radio show up @ Massey.

                    My understanding of prohibition is that the behaviour frowned upon ceases immediately. Wiki reckons it took over 200 years for the Cathars to cease. That's with a Catholic Crusade on their tails.

                    Not that the idea of two Gods has disappeared from humanity. The Catholic Church has become less relevant than those days however.

                    • McFlock

                      Immediately? Nah. Few if any social changes happen immediately.

                      If people didn't want to do something, it wouldn't have to be prohibited. So then the thing being prohibited has a function of how desperate people are for it (spiritual belief, chemical addiction), mechanisms to recruit new people to it (proselytisers, free hits), manufacturing (priests/prophets/chemists/growers) and a distribution network for it (priests/bibles/dealers). All of that needs to be interrupted and broken down.

                      If it was just "rule change and everyone immediately stops doing it", I doubt any prohibition effort would have ever been successful. There's always someone who keeps doing it for a bit.

                    • In Vino

                      I personally have always admired G K Chesterton's version of the Ten Commandments:

                      "No graven image shall worshipped be

                      except the golden currency"

                      Small chance of prohibition working in cases like that.

                • Pierre

                  Francis Cabrel wrote this haunting song about them. It's a violent and tragic story of a cult which was wiped out through long years of systematic killing and torture.

                  Obviously the comparison with Parler was rhetorical.

                  • gsays

                    Thanks Pierre, it is a beautiful song. Reading the translation, Cabrel has beautiful poetry for such shameful actions.

          • RedLogix

            I agree with the idea that when an ideology steps over a boundary, then it's necessary to disengage and condemn. Facism for example.

            And on this occasion Trump has unquestionably stepped over it too. I'm discomforted in some respects by his deplatforming, but it's justified in my view. This is not something we should ever do lightly.

            However we should be aware that we seem very sensitive to boundaries our opponents step over, not so much our own.

        • roblogic

          The Dems tried engaging in thoughtful democratic debate while QAnon conspiracy nuts had free rein to spread torrents of lies and disinformation, and Trump stirred hatred and fear. Media platforms have no obligation to facilitate insurrection.

          As an academic exercise it may be interesting to critique the roots of Trumpism and fascism, but when a movement turns violent and hateful, forceful and decisive action is necessary.


          • gsays

            I realise Amerikkka is broken.

            The Dems as they are currently, arent the ones to fix it.

        • roblogic

          Turning your question around, there are plenty of examples of marketing and disinformation campaigns being incredibly effective.

        • Gabby

          Not a lot of point engaging with an inveterate shameless liar.

        • Simbit

          Once read of a Buddhist sect that believed we went through 10,000 rebirths and then attained nirvana, regardless of karma and our attitudes and behaviours. You can see why they purged that…

    • Phil 2.2

      …surely these ideas are better where they can be seen, debated and assessed.

      Do you really, truly, think that there still needs to be a debate about whether it's ok to be a racist? Seems to me like we're well past that being a topic worth engaging.

      Racism, hatred, bigotry and anything else undesirable will not go away because it has been ‘deplatformed’.

      I accept that we might never be 100% rid of those things, just like I accept that i'm never going to be 100% rid of weeds in my garden. But in neither case does that mean we should do nothing and let them choke out the positive speech or plants that I want to see grow.

      • gsays 2.2.1

        If we aren't discussing racism, how does a racist become unracist?

        As to the garden analogy, is comfrey a weed?

        • McFlock

          Engaging with someone has three possible primary outcomes: they convince you, you convince them, neither convinces the other. Secondary outcomes include convincing spectators.

          Refusing to engage with racists and deplatforming them has one possible outcome: You will not help them to recruit anyone else.

          • gsays

            Ok, that's the primary possibilities. Planting seeds needs watering, attention and nurturing.

            I know since hanging out here, my views on many things have shifted. Not immediately mind…

            That is without going into what is considered offensive/worthy of being shut down. One person's insurrectionist is another's patriot

            I don't for a moment think Amazon was making an ethical decision. It was about business interests from the get go.

            • McFlock

              Yeah, but how many nats have come here and managed to flip a unionist?

              A lot of these forums where the capitol activities were organised were not akin to town squares where everyone went for the craic. Think more the local fasc booking out a community hall – good faith counter-discussion wasn't going to do much other than let them convince each other "liberal got owned". So don't rent them the hall.

              Amazon realised most people have had enough of these wankers, so yeah, it made a commercial decision.

              As to where we should be drawing the line, if neonazis and white supremacists are anywhere close to the grey area then I'm personally not cool with that.

    • mickysavage 2.3

      Thanks gsays. I asked the question and wrote the post because part of me is really happy and cheering what has occurred. But rather than driving them underground shouldn't we make sure they were still in public so that we can continue to monitor what they are doing. But they have caused a lot of damage over the past decade.

  3. WeTheBleeple 3

    Free speech is not disinformation, falsehoods, gaslighting, bullying or hate. Those things are as labelled.

    The blue lives matter crowd beat a cop to death. They were never interested in free speech just pissing off BLM.

    The Jesus is love folk got bused in to 'take our country back'. They're interested in creating a theocracy, no free speech required after that.

    The 'stop the steal' folk merely smeared feces on the Capitol walls, erected a gallows, and plotted the murders of officials. These the results of so called 'free speech'.

    Mealy mouthed bullshit used to concoct and carry out bullying, intimidation, gaslighting, incitement and yes, insurrection.

  4. lprent 4

    There is a general rule about anything on the net. I got told it in early 1980s when I started playing multi-user Star Trek on VT100 terminals on a DEC 1170.

    Never write or say anything in private that you wouldn't want to eventually see in public.

    Eventually everything leaks. If it doesn't leak then someone downloads it. If you say it, then sure as hell someone will repeat it.

    It is the generic rule that I've followed throughout my life.

    It looks like another generation is going to find that out the hard way. The crowd sourced download is a interesting feature of this hack. I have mused for a while that was going to happen. It is easy enough to pin up a pile of virtual machines on cloud platforms to pull data these days.

    Hopefully whoever initiated this and those of organised the download have protected themselves as well. I suspect that Parler and this who have their statements presented in court will try to cover their embarrassment by attacking the means of the data being made public.

    However I suspect that they have a pretty good public interest mitigation argument for the sentencing in that they are making this information direct to public without any possible monetary or profit motive or even a personal benefit.

    The only reason this hasn't happened before at this kind of level (nearest I can think of is some of the anonymous hacks – but there is often a dickwaving motive to that). But the capabilities have been there for a while.

    • The Al1en 4.1

      I agree with your quote, and have adhered to this for a long time, on line or in the real world.

      Only comparable thing I remember is the bnp membership leak.


      ” “I’m also on the list, what the fuck is going on? I could lose my job,” posted one member on a north-west England BNP forum.

      Another wrote: “God help anyone who is in the army, the prison service, health care, police officer or a teacher.” “

    • weka 4.2

      It's a reasonable rule of thumb, but there is still a difference between what people share privately and what they say in public in the same way there is IRL. I'm also mindful of the people who will be collateral damage in this, it's not like US law enforcement or spooks are going to take *that much care. If the personal details data is published online, then that's stepping over a line and I'm not yet convinced the public good argument prevails.

      • McFlock 4.2.1

        I'm concerned about people they were doxxing amongst themselves. like if they were targeting journos or whatever, all the personal details about those targeted people would be out, too.

        • weka

          didn't follow that at all sorry. You're concerned about the people that the hackers were sharing details about amongst the hackers?

          • McFlock

            No. There's a fair chance (just being an internet forum) that some of the material discussed amongst the registered users involved the personal information of completely unconnected individuals. Even something like has happened on TS on one occasion, where someone copy and pastes company director addresses from the companies register. The mods here caught it, but even if the parler admins "deleted" similar content, that content would still be in the data dump that the hackers plan to make publicly available.

            I have fewer concerns about actual registered commenters of parler. If someone outed that my hairdresser was a closet nazi, I think that's a piece of information that would help me with my purchasing decisions.

            It goes both ways. If I get doxxed for some of the stuff I've said here over the years, my employer would likely lose some income if I stayed in the job. I think my employer is worthwhile, so I'd have a serious talk about making a graceful exit.

            • weka

              Ah yes, that's some of who I was thinking about too. As well as partners or kids of people registered people being doxxed. Your hairdresser might be someone hanging out on parler talking to Nazis but fully radicalised yet, and when she loses her job her kids go hungry.

              I know sfa about parler though, and don't have a good sense of how many people were using it who weren't hard core protofascists.

              I'm not sure I'm arguing against the hack so much as pointing out there are issues here for the left in terms of what's acceptable ethically.

              • McFlock

                Yeah, it's not a blanket good.

                I'd also be interested to see how researchers deal with the ethical issues down the track – it could provide an almost complete record on radicalisation and the development of covert social networks.To have a complete record like that in an open source has all sorts of potential for social research, not even just researching the nutbar right.

  5. Adrian 5

    What are the chances that the two people who did not get Covid on the flight may have had an immunity from previous contact, can that be picked up in Day 3 and 12 testing, or they had high Vit-D levels which has been shown to be protective. Maybe they were just super careful?

    As for pre-flight negative tests, I can’ t think of anything stupider than sending someone out to where C19 positive people must gather to wait for a test, as a negative test only records from 3 days prior when in fact the very process is probably the most dangerous thing that a hopeful flyer may have done for weeks. I feel a lot of the things that Dr Baker says defies common sense.
    Sorry on wrong thread, having huge probs with bloody Spark and stuff dropping out every few minutes so got out of sync.

  6. Forget now 6

    I am pretty confident that allowing the unfettered spread of fake news and conspiracy theories IS inimical to our collective best interest. I am pretty confident MS is too, maybe just tripped up on the proofreading?

  7. Grafton Gully 7

    They'll get old fashioned and find another way. bypassing and undermining the online vehicles.

  8. Ad 8

    They will figure out the same ways to communicate as Middle East terrorists have from the last three decades.

    I'm looking forward to the entire Homeland Security apparatus focused on their dominant domestic threat. It'll happen at some point.

    • McFlock 8.1

      In the morning, when they shave for work? 🙂

      The 1990s to 2000s was damned odd – militia got a lot of focus after OKC, but also the militia were waiting for the big government event that would be an excuse to introduce totalitarianism (and the militias would bravely defeat 2000lb bombs with an ar15).

      Then 9/11 happened, and that became the excuse for Homeland security and the Patriot Act (and nude scans at airports). And the militias… tended to support it.

      Sure, the tea party was going nuts, but the patriot act wasn't high on their list of complaints. I guess if you don't read to often, you don't have a problem with librarians being required to tell feds what you've been reading.

  9. smilin 9

    amazon owns the bulk of US and European servers plus the US govt military ones

  10. Sacha 10

    Not much hacking required, thanks to amateurish setup.

    Parler lacked the most basic security measures that would have prevented the automated scraping of the site's data. It even ordered its posts by number in the site's URLs, so that anyone could have easily, programmatically downloaded the site's millions of posts.

    Parler's cardinal security sin is known as an insecure direct object reference, says Kenneth White, codirector of the Open Crypto Audit Project…

    "It's just a straight sequence, which is mind-numbing to me," says White. "This is like a Computer Science 101 bad homework assignment, the kind of stuff that you would do when you're first learning how web servers work. I wouldn't even call it a rookie mistake because, as a professional, you would never write something like this."

    Services like Twitter, by contrast, randomize the URLs of posts so they can't be guessed. And while they offer APIs that give developers access to tweets en masse, they carefully restrict access to those APIs. By contrast, Parler had no authentication for an API that offered access to all its public contents, says Josh Rickard, a security engineer for security firm Swimlane.

    • alwyn the troll 10.1

      Was their security like that on the Labour Party website when Whaleoil accessed it in 2011? ie non-existent?

      If that is the case they really do deserve to have the whole lot made public don't they? Just the same way that the Labour Party deserved it?

      Or am I missing something?

  11. Sacha 11

    Consequences arrive here

    • Phillip ure 11.1

      Redbaiter closed down also…

      • Phillip ure 11.1.1

        I agree with closing down trump..

        but not so happy about the weeding out of his acolytes..

        as in when does the banning stop..?

        seeing as our spooks already see animal rights people as evonomic-terrorists…who are undermining the nz economy..

        ..with their blathering on..

        ..there must almost be cause to ban them..

        should we de-platform hosking for his years of preaching racism..against maori..?

        (the examples are many..)

        t'is a slippery-slope…that banning thing..

        and much as I loathe pretty much every word that falls from their lips..I don't think redbaiter and that dem-mum person should be banned..

        like talks with like…and you don't have to read them..

        ..and you don't need the apparatus of the state/whatever to do that for you..

        do you…?

  12. joe90 12

    How sad, never mind…

  13. Corey Humm 13

    Too little too late from big tech. The damage social media has done to politicial discourse it's insane now. Social media allows us to broadcast our first reactions to news and our first reactions are usually angry and uniformed.

    While we're happy Trump and co are being somewhat deplatformed and we should be , I'm not happy that corporates hold this much power, we must never forget historically it's the left who get censored and deplatformed and it's only a matter of time before left wing voices that go against corporate news media and silicon valleys politics are considered radical and dangerous (we are the ones who want to break up the big corporates after all)

    Im glad they are getting radicals off mainstream social media but it doesn't mean they'll go away.

    There's also questions like what kind of veiws will get you banned ? Will it be an algorithm or people? There's many many many with conspiratorial views on the left, many who talk about revolutions, corporate conspiracies, sending the 1% to gulags, killing and eating the rich will they be banned? Will activists on the left for civil rights issues many who can often speak quite viciously about white people ( out of pain and anger, which is understandable) which can be construed by some as racist if it's not a human doing the deleting I'd say they'd be banned too . There's a lot of radical people on the left who use quite radical language even in my own LGBT+ community who talk about killing straight white men, hell there are people on the left who call homosexuality genital preference and believe same sex attraction is a choice and just a societal construct, this could be interpreted as homophobia from inside the lgbt if a non lgbt person or algorithm is doing the deleting. (This isn't me accusing any movement of bigotry but there are all sorts of activists who might be called for views, jokes and inflammatory langue just go in Twitter because social media brings out the worst in people regardless of politcs)

    And what happens when they are deplatformed do they go away or do they go somewhere in the dark which scares me even more especially for the right wing scum who are already using platforms like parler.

    I am glad that big tech is frankly doing something don't get me wrong but it does set a dangerous precedent and many movements which use inflammatory language even on the left may be caught in the cull.

    I still think we should break up the big tech giants and turn social media into some kind of utility because they have far too much power and absolute power corrupts absolutey. I mean deplatforming the potus is incredible power even though I agree with it . Everytime I comment I get banned and I probably will for saying that a lot of progressive movements and communities use inflammatory langue all time, will calling for some kind of revolution have your blog or account or site removed by big tech? Will legitimate protests no longer be able to advertised or shared on line.

    I just hope it's a human being not an algorithm because the algorithms already in use have negatively effected the left more than the right

    • Sacha 13.1

      I doubt the big US corporates will jump to ban lefties unless there is any action to match the fine words.

      This banning only happened because the chumpy mob showed they were quite willing to turn words into physical and civic harm. Credible threat.

    • gsays 13.2

      With Phil's garden analogy, I asked about comfrey. Some opine it is an invasive, prolific weed and curse it.

      I have found it to be great living mulch (keeps weeds and grass at bay around trees), bees love it, awesome compost/tea and goes OK in a salad when the leaves are young. I wouldn't be without it.

      One person's surrectionist is another's patriot.

    • roblogic 13.3

      Corporate America is a scary beast that plunders the Earth but it’s enabled by the Deep State/ CIA which runs the most powerful military and intelligence apparatus ever seen, and it’s run by unaccountable men in suits.

      “Democracy”… great marketing gimmick

  14. Sacha 14

    Lest we forget

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  • Better natural hazard information for home buyers
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  • New Zealand welcomes visiting WTO Director General
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  • Faster, cheaper, better resource management law given first reading
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  • Minister Sio to meet new Vanuatu PM
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  • Driving ahead with the Clean Car Standard
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  • Speech to Constitutional Kōrero conference
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  • Rental sector changes to regulate residential property managers, clear up meth confusion and ease pr...
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  • Further sanctions on the political and economic elites of Russia and Belarus
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    6 days ago
  • Another step towards improved supermarket competition
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  • Black Ferns to be celebrated at Parliament
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  • Autism Guideline released by Ministry
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  • Speech to Aotearoa Refugee Hui
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  • Global climate talks underline need for domestic action
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  • Defence Minister visits Ukraine and Poland
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  • Stuart Nash to attend OECD meetings
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  • Human Rights Act enhanced to protect religious communities
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  • Defence Minister meets with UK counterpart and visits NZDF personnel
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  • Government takes action to reduce gambling harm from pokies
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  • The Pacific business village comes to Auckland
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  • Speech to the Asia New Zealand Foundation
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