Parler Reappears As Russian Firm Says It’s Providing ‘Protection’

A man wearing a QAnon sweatshirt faces US Capitol police officers as they try to stop supporters of President Donald Trump from entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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January 19, 2021 1:36 p.m.

The social network responsible for hosting far-right planners of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has partly returned, thanks to protection from a Russian website.

Parler, the website hawked by figures ranging from Alex Jones to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is back online but not fully operational; a brief message says that the page is experiencing “technical difficulties” and offers a promise from its CEO to return.

Parler’s resurrection comes after Amazon dropped it from its web hosting platform, and is being assisted by a Russian firm called DDoS-Guard.

First reported by Reuters, a DDoS-Guard spokesperson told TPM in a statement that the company had begun “servicing” Parler on the night of Jan. 17.

“The security provider is not at liberty to disclose the services provided to the customers as it contradicts our privacy policy,” the statement reads. “However, due to the increased media attention, we have to state that the customer does not use the hosting service.”

Parler has marketed itself as a right-wing option for those disaffected by moderators on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at creating a thicker information bubble in which the conservative movement can live.

The site has reportedly been funded by right-wing financier Rebekah Mercer, who also was a prominent bankroller of President Trump’s 2016 run.

Mainstream conservative personalities like Sen. Cruz have boosted the platform, while extremist groups like the Proud Boys took to using the site after being banned from Facebook.

DDoS-Guard, the Russian firm that’s played a role in resurrecting Parler, has long been on the radar of cybersecurity researchers. It first popped up in relation to Parler after one researcher noticed that the right-wing social network website’s new internet protocol address was owned by the firm.

The day before the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, researcher Brian Krebs published a blog post outlining research finding that the company provided services to prominent QAnon sites, 8chan, and Hamas.

Krebs also said that DDoS-Guard also had a company called VanwaTech as a client, which hosted a number of sites that were being used to organize the Jan. 6 rally which served as the base for an attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. VanwaTech also hosted 8kun, a site that has gained renown for both propagating QAnon conspiracy theories and for serving as an organizing space for right-wing extremists. 

DDoS-Guard has since dropped VanwaTech, again leaving the site in the digital wilderness.

DDoS-Guard told TPM that it would only “hinder customer service experience” if it received a court order in relation to the customer breaking “the law of the countries of their legal residence.”

“The only policy that is close to DDoS-GUARD is that of net neutrality,” the statement reads.

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