Washington, DC – Parler started sending the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) violent threats to the U.S. Capitol and members of Congress posted to its social media channel as early as November of 2020 but it appears as though the FBI may have ignored those warnings.
Parler sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) on March 25 that explained exactly how much the company had done to try and prevent the assault on the U.S. Capitol that occurred on Jan. 6, The New York Times reported.
Maloney, in her letter to FBI Director Christopher 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, The Washington Post reported.
DDoS-Guard, who was slotted to host Parler’s second incarnation, also has Russian government clients.
“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.”
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.
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.
Parler made its return on Feb. 15 hosted by a network of smaller companies.
The company’s letter to Maloney hit back at accusations the Parler had played a role in the Capitol riot.
The company addressed the “widespread disinformation campaign” that Big Tech waged against the conservative social media platform and explained that Parler had in fact provided the FBI with lots of information about threats to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that appeared to have been completely ignored.
“Parler now writes to set the record straight and provide new information about the positive role Parler played in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, which should finally put an end to the spurious allegations against the Company,” the letter read.
Then Parler dropped a bombshell on the House Oversight Committee chairwoman and informed her that it had told the FBI what was coming on Jan. 6 in great detail ahead of the riot.
“The Company has acted to remove incitement and threats of violence from its platform and did so numerous times in the days before the unlawful rioting at the Capitol,” the letter read. “As Parler grew substantially in the latter half of 2020, the Company took the extraordinary initiative to develop formal lines of communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) to facilitate proactive cooperation and referrals of violent threats and incitement to law enforcement.”
“In fact, in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, Parler referred violent content from its platform to the FBI for investigation over 50 times, and Parler even alerted law enforcement to specific threats of violence being planned at the Capitol,” the company explained.
Parler said in the letter it worked quickly to scale its procedures to curb violent content and pro-actively reported violent content and threats to the FBI in what the company considered a formal relationship with the federal agency and shared emails to prove it.
The company told Maloney that “Parler regularly forwarded screenshots of unlawful posts that called for violence or which merited additional investigation to protect public safety.”
Parler offered an example from Dec. 22, 2020 when the social media company sent the FBI three messages from a user who threatened to kill politicians and specifically threatened then-Attorney General William Barr.
Then the threats got specific about what was being planned for Jan. 6, according to the letter.
“In December 2020, Parler also began to alert the FBI about alarming content that included specific threats of organized violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the company wrote. “For example, on December 24, Parler forwarded a post to the FBI from a user who called for the congregation of an armed force of 150,000 on the Virginia side of the Potomac River to ‘react to the congressional events of January 6th.’”
“Later that same day, Parler forwarded another unlawful post to the FBI in which a user stated that he was trying to ‘find some guys that are planning on lighting up Antifa in [Washington, D.C.] on the 6th” because he wanted to ‘start eliminating people,’” the letter continued.
As the threats grew, Parler stayed on top it and continued to update the FBI, according to the letter to Maloney.
Parler sent the FBI a series of posts on Jan. 2 “by a user claiming that he would be wearing body armor” at in DC on Jan. 6.
The user wrote that Jan. 6 “is not a rally and it’s no longer a protest. This is the final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. I trust the American people will take back the USA with force and many are ready to die to take back #USA so remember this is not a party until they announce #Trump2020 a winner. . . . And don’t be surprised if we take the #capital [sic] building . . . .”
Parler also sent the FBI another post by the same user that made it clear people would be armed and that an “insurrection” was planned.
The Parler employee who forwarded the threats to the FBI highlighted these and warned their federal contact person he was “concerned about Wednesday.”
Parler said in the letter to the House Oversight Chair that it continued to forward threats of violence to the FBI after the Capitol riot.
The letter said that Parler continued to commit resources to working with the FBI even after Big Tech had begun to remove them from download apps and de-platform them.
The FBI refused to comment on what it did with the information that was sent to them ahead of the riot and afterwards by Parler, The New York Times reported.
Parler’s letter also pointed to several analyses of the charging documents following the riot that showed Parler likely contributed the least to the riot out of all the social media platforms, and noted that one criminal indictment said Oath Keepers planned their entire assault on the Capitol building on Facebook.
The letter to Maloney also cited some other examples of the role Big Tech social media played in the planning of the Capitol riot, but said it did so not to point fingers but rather to show how hard it is to curb rhetoric and incitement, even for more well-established platforms.
Parler said that it should not be singled out for investigation given that the company had cooperated with the FBI long before and after the Capitol riot.
It also informed Maloney that despite reported rumors to the contrary, Parler’s data had never been hosted by a Russian entity, nor had any “user data ever passed through DDoS-Guard’s servers.”
The company thanked the House Oversight Committee for letting it “set the record straight about Big Tech’s damaging disinformation campaign and anticompetitive efforts to de-platform [Parler].”
“As explained above, Parler was poised to challenge Twitter’s and Facebook’s dominance of social media when the Big Tech giants colluded to scapegoat Parler for the tragic events at the Capitol on January 6th,” the letter read.
And then Parler challenged Maloney to investigate and hold Big Tech accountable for their anticompetitive conduct.
Parler is now back online and you call follow our page on Parler.