Crash Override Successfully Downloaded over 70TB of data from Parler servers -- Parler Sues AWS
January 11, 2021
A hacker who calls herself "Crash Override" has infiltrated Parler servers and downloaded over 70TB of data. The dump includes posts by users including messages, images, videos, and users’ location data during last week's insurrection at the Capitol. The FBI and government agencies may now analyze the data and potentially use it to expose and arrest rioters.
Amazon Web Services, the world's largest web hosting infrastructure, suspended Parler's account Sunday, citing lax moderation policies that incited violence. John Maitze, the CEO of Parler announced that the site would be down for up to a week and that the platform would need to be built "from scratch" as likely all user data became inaccessible, or difficult to migrate following the shutdown. Platform migrations across hosting services often take months.
David Gilbert of VICE News reports the following key points:
- Like most online services, Parler didn’t actually delete user posts; they simply marked them as unviewable and omitted them from search results.
- Initially, the hacker worked on downloading the data herself, but when Amazon announced it was going to shut off access, they urged her followers to join in by publishing a list of all the posts.
- The hacker set up a crowdsourcing system where multiple people could help download the content. The downloaded data is now being processed before being uploaded to the Internet Archive, where anyone will be able to view or download it — including the open-source intelligence community and law enforcement agencies.
Buzzfeed acquired a leak of Amazon's letter to Parler:
“[W]e cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,”“Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.”
On Amazon Web Services, Parler had gone from a negligible spend to paying more than $300,000 a month for hosting, according to multiple sources.
Amazon employees had publicly called for an AWS ban of Parler, and a Change.org petition calling for the same thing had amassed thousands of signatures this week. Multiple employees had also filed internal complaints to AWS management citing hate speech on the social network.
"As we discussed on the phone yesterday and this morning, we remain troubled by the repeated violations of our terms of service. Over the past several weeks, we’ve reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence. Here are a few examples below from the ones we’ve sent previously.
Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms. It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service. It also seems that Parler is still trying to determine its position on content moderation. You remove some violent content when contacted by us or others, but not always with urgency. Your CEO recently stated publicly that he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this, and neither should the platform.” This morning, you shared that you have a plan to more proactively moderate violent content, but plan to do so manually with volunteers. It’s our view that this nascent plan to use volunteers to promptly identify and remove dangerous content will not work in light of the rapidly growing number of violent posts. This is further demonstrated by the fact that you still have not taken down much of the content that we’ve sent you. Given the unfortunate events that transpired this past week in Washington, D.C., there is serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence."
On Monday, Parler filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Seattle alleging that its suspension from AWS services violated antitrust law and breached contractual agreement.
Journalists at The Hill obtained a copy of the 18 page complaint:
“AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus,” the lawsuit reads. “It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter.”
Multiple legal experts told The Hill that Parler's antitrust claim was unlikely to succeed. The lawsuit does not establish that Parler's suspension was part of an agreement between Amazon and Twitter, the rival social media company that Parler identified as the beneficiary of its shutdown.
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)