Parler Finds a Reprieve in Russia—but Not a Solution

WIRED

Illustration: WIRED Staff; Getty Images

In the wake of the Capitol riots two weeks ago, a number of large tech companies pulled support for Parler, a Twitter-like social network that Donald Trump’s supporters have increasingly favored since its launch in 2018. Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their digital stores, and Amazon Web Services cut the platform’s hosting services. After more than a week offline, the site is now partially back up, in the form of a landing page that promises a full return. To get even this far, Parler has hired DDoS-Guard, a Russian digital infrastructure company, to defend it against the endless barrage of attacks that virtually all sites face online—particularly those as controversial as Parler.

DDoS-Guard told WIRED it is only providing defense against denial-of-service attacks, not hosting Parler’s site. But even that level of support requires access to all the traffic that flows through Parler, so that it can “scrub” out malicious traffic aimed at overwhelming the site. Given the Russian government’s active efforts to isolate the country’s internet and gain access to all data, Parler could expose its users to Russian surveillance if the site someday does relaunch in full with DDoS-Guard. 

“Now seems like the right time to remind you all—both lovers and haters—why we started this platform,” Parler’s homepage currently proclaims. “We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential … We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon.”

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