After its effective removal from the internet, Parler has returned, allegedly with help from a Russian technology company.
DDos Guard, a Russian-owned and UK-registered web-hosting business, has reportedly supplied Parler with a new IP address to help it get online.
In addition, the social media platform is now being hosted by a company called Epik, which also hosts other far-right websites including Gab and 8chan.
Parler’s official webpage is now accessible, though it contains only a handful of messages. One of them, from Parler CEO John Matze, says: “Our return is inevitable due to hard work, and persistence against all odds.”
In statements to Fox News, he claimed that he is confident the website will be restored by the end of January.
In addition to hosting, DDos Guard provides protection against distributed denial of service attacks. Its other clients include the Russian Ministry of Defence and provided DDos protection to 8chan successor 8kun, a notorious hotbed for white supremacist and alt-right content. However, the company recently cut ties with 8kun this month.
The company is part of a limited partnership registered in Scotland by two founders and controllers, Russian businessmen Aleksei Likhachev and Evgeniy Marchenko. It is registered as a partnership called Cognitive Cloud in Edinburgh.
There are numerous companies in operation that provide similar services to DDos Guard, which is unlikely to have access or control over Parler’s data.
Parler has been through a few tumultuous months. Since its launch in 2018, the social media app largely flew under the radar. It was only in the aftermath of the US presidential election in November when it entered the public consciousness.
It was then that conservative voices started abandoning microblogging app Twitter en masse over claims that it was censoring defeated Presidential candidate Donald Trump as he made baseless claims that the election had been stolen.
Parler’s laissez-faire attitude to content moderation made it popular with the alt-right, who were able to voice their opinions without fear of being banned.
However, in the wake of the attack on the US Capitol Building by supporters of President Trump, Parler came under scrutiny over allegations that it had been used to coordinate the attack and to live-stream the event.
In the backlash, it was removed from several app stores before being removed from Amazon Web Services’ (AWS’) servers, effectively banishing it from the internet.
When this happened, a team of activists/hackers exploited a security loophole to access and archive content from the platform, to use it to identify the people involved in the Capitol attack.
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One of these is Telegram, which added around 25 million new users in the days after the WhatsApp announcement, bringing its total user base to around 500 million.
However, there have been reports that many of the new users are alt-right supporters. Boasting accounts from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Telegram offers end-to-end encryption and a focus on privacy for its semi-public group messaging services.
There have been reports that the app is being used by alt-right extremists to spread additional calls and plans for violence in the wake of the Capitol attack.
Telegram recently banned 15 channels that had been posting extremist content, including manuals on how to create munitions and bombs.