When angry supporters of Donald Trump stormed the US Parliament on January 6, many of them left a wide trail of data. The news portal »Gizmodo« made them visible. The editors worked their way through “almost 70,000 geospatial Parler articles”, extracted hundreds from them that were published around the Washington Capitol on the day of the storm, and entered them on a map.
The result is a kind of movement profile. Not that of a person, but one that shows how those in the pack who posted photos and videos of the event on Parler or even reported live, moved through the US capital. Starting with the National Mall, where Trump incited tens of thousands of people with the words, “You will never recapture your country with weakness, you have to show strength,” deep into the Capitol.
The fact that the journalists were able to understand exactly where Parler users were during the uprising is thanks to the poor security precautions of the social network. Parler is a kind of answer on Facebook and Twitter and is aimed at those who feel bothered by the regulations of the established networks. Parler describes itself as a »Free Speech Social Network«, which is correct in that the posts are not moderated there or at most rarely. Only if there are complaints can a panel of voluntary jurors decide whether the content in question is illegal. That’s why Parler is popular in the right-wing scene.
When Apple and Google banned the app from their stores after the storm on the Capitol and Amazon withdrew its servers from the network, a group of hackers archived the content stored there, i.e. text, photos and videos – including deleted ones. This was made possible because Parler’s code allowed comparatively simple and at the same time comprehensive access to all content via its interface. A sample could be used to predict which address a content had.
Around 70 terabytes of data are said to have come together in this way. These are to be published in the »Internet Archive«, but are also to be made available to journalists, scientists and law enforcement agencies on request. As happened with »Gizmodo«.
The magazine reports that the GPS coordinates were sometimes able to be assigned to specific videos. For example, a coordinate point coincides with a video showing insurgents shouting in the Capitol rotunda, “Whose house? Our house!”.
The Parler data, writes “Gizmodo” with reference to an anonymous source, have long attracted the interest of the FBI. In any case, the search for the perpetrators at the FBI is largely digital. The federal police have already received more than 100,000 digital information from the population. By Tuesday, proceedings against those involved in the storming of the Capitol had been opened in 170 cases.