The cascade of bad news for social media site Parler got worse on Monday morning, after reports began circulating that hackers may have compromised the service and obtained the private data of Parler users before the service was taken offline Monday morning.
Parler, which bills itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter, was simultaneously targeted by almost every big tech company in America last week after last Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the counting of Electoral College ballots and led to the deaths of at least five people. The social media site was blamed for failing to provide adequate content moderation policies and for allowing the violent element that was present at the protests to coordinate its activities. The last straw occurred when Amazon Web Services announced that it would no longer host Parler, leading the site to shut down early Monday morning.
However, according to Vice News, when hackers realized that Parler was about to be taken offline, they began a frenzied effort to download all of Parler’s data, and they may have been successful. The report noted that a hacker who goes by the handle Crash Override on Twitter claims to have obtained and downloaded all publicly available data from Parler, including deleted posts, location data, videos, and images. The data has reportedly been archived by the hacker and might be used to help law enforcement track down people who were present at the riots last Wednesday.
According to Gizmodo, the hacker in question eventually plans to upload the full trove of digital documents to the internet, which has led some Parler users to express concern that they may end up being “doxxed” or harassed at work because of their activities on Parler.
Notably, however, the hacker has denied having access to anyone’s private data, including emails, telephone numbers, or credit cards, and claims to only have downloaded information that was “publicly available.”