Hacker goes after Parler users, archives terabytes of data


A hacker has archived Parler user posts, photos and videos in the wake of the platform being accused of fueling the recent Capitol riots.

This illustration picture shows the social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background in Arlington, Va., on July 2, 2020. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

The hacker, who goes by @donk_enby on Twitter, said in tweets posted on Jan. 10 that “I am now crawling URLs of all videos uploaded to Parler…This may include things from deleted/private posts.”

In another tweet, she said, “The crawl is now complete. 1098552 video URLs…there will be 1.1M URLs total.”

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“These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” another tweet said.

The scraped Parler videos include the location data, or so-called metadata. That data could be crucial to authorities investigating the Capitol riot. The results are listed on a “Parler Tracker” archival website.

Addressing privacy concerns, the hacker tweeted: “Since a lot of people seem confused about this detail and there is a bull**** reddit post going around: only things that were available publicly via the web were archived. I don’t have you [sic] e-mail address, phone or credit card number. unless you posted it yourself on parler.”

The hacker, who describes herself on Twitter as a free speech “Meiklejohnian absolutist,” has a link to a separate page that shows Vienna, Austria, as the location. Among other “skills” listed on that page are “Android, iOS and React Native mobile application development.”

Parler – seen by conservatives as a more open, less-censored alternative to Twitter – became the No. 1 app on the Apple App Store. However, on Friday, Google dropped Parler’s app from the Play Store, followed on Saturday by Apple. Then Amazon Web Services dropped Parler from its web hosting services, effectively shutting it down and making the site inaccessible. 

Parler has been accused of fueling last week’s Capitol riots in Washington, D.C. 

Both the hacker and Parler have yet to respond to Fox News’ requests for comment.

A cybersecurity professional told Fox News that the upshot is the data scraping effort should help law enforcement.

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“My understanding is that the ‘security researchers’ behind this effort intend to use it to assist law enforcement in identifying individuals involved in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol,” Eric Howes, principal lab researcher at KnowBe4, a security awareness training company, told Fox News.

A lesson, however, for innocent users who get caught up in the data scrape is don’t ever assume any data is private, another expert warned.

“This should be an example that content posted online can be archived long after the platform is dissolved,” Terence Jackson, chief information security officer at Thycotic, a Washington D.C.,-based cybersecurity firm, told Fox News.

“Many companies claim to provide privacy and safety, however, those claims should be thoroughly investigated before posting,” Jackson explained.

KnowBe4’s Howes added that this could also expose innocent people to unnecessary harassment.

“If these researchers start sharing that massive cache of data with others, though, individual Parler users could be exposed to a range of other threats from potentially malicious actors,” he said. 

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