Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Mapping the Parler Hack

Parler, the controversial social network much loved by QAnon morons and right-wing domestic terrorists, is having a bad week. Over the weekend Amazon banned Parler from its AWS cloud servers. Now it has had all its data hacked. 

Very poor security on the Parler website has meant that anyone has been able to download every message, photo, and video posted to the site. After the FBI began asking people to identify domestic terrorists appearing in photos and videos of last week's attack on the United States Capitol many Parler users began to hurriedly delete media they had shared on the social network. Unfortunately for them Parler's terrible security means that hackers have also been able to download all deleted posts. 

Even more unfortunately for worried domestic terrorists Parler's lax security doesn't end there. For example Parler didn't take the very basic step of deleting all Exif data from media uploaded to Parler. This means that many of the photos and videos posted to the social network include data on the date and location of when the media was captured. 

This has meant that people have been able to map Parler Video Uploads. For example, this interactive map shows the locations of videos posted to Parler across the world. Zoom in on your home town and you can see the locations in your town where people have taken videos and uploaded them to Parler (the location data comes from where the video was shot not where it was uploaded from). Click on a video's dot on the map and you can also read the date stamp of the video. 

This time and location data from uploaded videos could be very useful to the FBI. For example the FBI could use this data to track all the media uploaded to Parler last Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Or they could just ask Gizomodo, who have already mapped GPS data from videos posted to Parler on the day of the insurrection in Washington.

If I had posted a video or photo to Parler from Washington D.C. during the domestic terrorism last Wednesday I would be very worried that the FBI would use my unique identifier number to then map out all my other media posted to Parler. Doing that could very easily reveal the home address of an insurrectionist to the FBI.

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