The recent events during the last days of the Trump administration shone a light on social media and its negative political effects like never before. Following the occupation of the Capitol in Washington D.C. we saw a rapid reaction from social-media owners, they moved to against Donald Trump’s accounts and forced some users to start looking for new alternative platforms. One such alternative was a recently established micro-blogging platform Parler. When Parler was launched it was quickly sparked controversy. Not only because of Trump supporters using it or any radical views spread through the use of the platform. For some, the real issue is the possible connection with the Russian Federation and the possibility of misuse of Parler as a spying tool for the Russian operatives which has been alleged.
Parler was founded by John Matze, who is a self-proclaimed libertarian seeking freedom of speech within social media. The co-funder of Parler, Rebekah Mercer, a daughter of Robert Mercer – co-founder of the Cambridge Analytica, supported the creation of this new social-media platform. Parler started gathering support among various social groups and users, most notably people connected to the American alt-right, sovereign citizen movement, and pro-Trump supporters.
In an operation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was noticed that the people responsible for meddling with the US Presidential Election of 2016 set up independent news outlets targeting right-wing supporters. The Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens (NAEBC), located in Hungary, a state said to be a Russian harbor in the European Union, was more popular on Parler and Gab platforms than anywhere else.
But having a controversial co-founder, sharing information from set-up media outlets or even John Matze’s Russian wife does not necessarily mean that Parler is being used by the Russians for spying and targeting purposes, right?
Considering a brief analysis conducted by Dave Troy, a network analyst and disinformation specialist, shows there are some new pieces to include in the puzzle. Nonetheless, there are still too many blanks spots and with the platform’s recent removal from Amazon’s hosting services it remains to be seen how long it will remain viable.
On Monday, January 18th, Parler’s website became active and accessible once again. Supposedly, the internet protocol it uses is owned by a company called DDoS-Guard. DDoS-Guard hosts the Russian Ministry of Defense as well. The question is – why Parler decided to host its services directly from Russia?
In the end, it is hard to prove Parler is deliberately acting on the behalf of the Russian intelligence services. However, the connection between the platform management and the Russian Federation is visible, there is no specific proof of the platform being used for covert ops. Nonetheless, it would not be for the first time the Russian Federation intelligence has acted against the United States.