Last Updated on January 11, 2021
Media reports that a “hack” of free speech social media platform Parler included the release of government-issued IDs are untrue, National File can confirm.
A leftist hacker, going by @donk_enby on Twitter, announced that they had scraped around 99% of all Parler’s public posts, including deleted posts, after they were determined to archive the content posted on January 6th, with many users attending the protests on Capitol Hill.
Over 1 million unique Parler URLs were archived by the self-described hacker, whose tweets only date back to last month. Photo and video EXIF data were able to be gathered from the site, which allowed them to even pinpoint location data if users had posted media content to Parler.
metadata such as https://t.co/f5y6AzZ3km pic.twitter.com/95cXeCbZo6
— crash override (@donk_enby) January 10, 2021
After the initial story garnered traction, an unverified Reddit post on the subreddit ParlerWatch, claimed that rather than simply scraping and archiving public data, hackers had broken into Parler’s backend, created thousands of fake administrator accounts, and most importantly, gained access to government-issued IDs such as driver’s licences that users who were verified had submitted to Parler.
However, the hacker responsible for the archiving described the Reddit post as “bullsh*t,” and said that they had only gained access to publicly available information. “I don’t have [your] email address, phone or credit card number, unless you posted it yourself on Parler.” National File also understands that due to Parler’s functionality, it would have been impossible to gain access to the government IDs. No admin accounts were created either.
since a lot of people seem confused about this detail and there is a bullshit reddit post going around:
only things that were available publicly via the web were archived. i don't have you e-mail address, phone or credit card number. unless you posted it yourself on parler.
— crash override (@donk_enby) January 11, 2021
This didn’t stop multiple media outlets from running with the story without bothering to check whether what they were putting out was true or not. Cybernews and Gadgets360 both claimed that the “security researchers” had gained access to the verified user Parler documents, which would have included the government IDs, with The Metro even going so far as to repost the entire Reddit post within their article.
READ MORE: Parler Sues Amazon Over Ban from AWS Servers, Says They’re Colluding with Twitter, Leaked Emails to Buzzfeed
Other sites strongly insinuated that the identification was at risk through the “hack,” such as The Independent, which suggested that Parler could easily be subpoenaed by federal agents for the IDs, and Vice, who reposted a message calling the event a “mass dox” which could leave home addresses vulnerable.
Blue tick liberal Twitter accounts also joined in, including a failed Democrat congressional candidate, and a BBC national radio presenter.
Incredible, if true, on the hacking of Parler — https://t.co/YkKJIR2KBS
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) January 11, 2021
I don’t pretend to understand this or know if it’s true, but it sure sounds like all of Parler’s data – including users’ personal info and all their posts, including deleted ones – was hacked before the site went down. The info is being made public. https://t.co/AlfizEcUWG pic.twitter.com/pwXqA7jobw
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) January 11, 2021
Parler is currently offline for an indeterminate period of time, following its removal from Amazon’s web servers, which had previously hosted it. In a final statement before the site was pulled early Monday morning, Parler CEO John Matze said the site “will likely be down longer than expected,” as statements to the press by the Big Tech companies who dropped had damaged their reputation with other vendors.