Washington, DC – The chair of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday asked federal investigators to conduct a review of the social media platform Parler.
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Chris Wray and asked him to look into what role Parler may have played in orchestrating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, NBC News reported.
Parler gained enormous popularity with conservatives as an uncensored alternative after Facebook and Twitter began shutting down accounts citing concerns about harmful content.
Parler was deplatformed by Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Jan. 10, two days after Google and then Apple, removed the app from their download stores.
AWS accused Parler of an “unwillingness and inability” to police and remove content “inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens,” The Washington Post reported.
Parler Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Wernick has denied those allegations.
“Like other social-media platforms, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with law-enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute those individuals responsible for organizing and carrying out the shameless Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Parler welcomes Rep. Maloney’s call to have the Federal Bureau of Investigation conduct a robust examination of our policies and actions,” Wernick told The Washington Post in a written statement.
Parler filed a lawsuit against AWS that alleged antitrust violations, breach of contract, and unlawful business interference.
They also accused AWS of leaking news of the deplatforming to the media before they told Parler.
A federal district judge in Seattle denied Parler’s request for a preliminary injunction on Jan. 21.
Regardless of setbacks, Parler was expected to be back up and running before the end of January on a new server system, The Washington Post reported.
“Our return is inevitable due to hard work, and persistence against all odds,” Parler Chief Executive Officer John Matze said in a statement posted to their website on Monday. “Despite the threats and harassment not one Parler employee has quit. We are becoming closer and stronger as a team.”
But now the House Oversight chair wants the new entity hosting Parler to be investigated, The Washington Post reported.
Maloney, in her letter to Wray, suggested that Parler’s use of a Russian-owned web services company could make the social media app vulnerable to data requests by Russian agencies.
DDoS-Guard, who was slotted to host Parler’s second incarnation, also has Russian government clients, The Washington Post reported.
“I am going to get to the bottom of who owns and funds social media platforms like Parler that condone and create violence,” Maloney told The Washington Post.
The congresswoman also noted in her letter that Parler’s CEO’s wife is Russian.
“The company was founded by John Matze shortly after he traveled in Russia with his wife, who is Russian and whose family reportedly has ties to the Russian government,” Maloney wrote. “Concerns about the company’s connections to Russia have grown since the company re-emerged on a Russian hosting service, DDoS-Guard.”
She asked the FBI to “conduct a robust examination of the role that the social media site Parler played in the assault, including as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence,” The Washington Post reported.
She also accused DDos-Guard of having ties to Hamas despite the fact the company stopped providing service to Hamas in November of 2020.
Maloney told The Washington Post that she was making the investigation of Parler a priority for the investigative oversight panel.