Security News

Parler's Poor Coding Means Capitol Attack Posts Remain Preserved, Even When Deleted

In the wake of hacker @donk_enby scraping 99% (80TB) of posts from social media website Parler, it's been revealed the process was made easier by the site's extremely poor coding and security.

Parler, the social media site that acts as an alternative to mainstream sites such as Twitter and Facebook, is popular among many supporters of US President Donald Trump because of it sells itself as "unbiased social media". Many posts on the site, including videos, were published before, during and after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6 this year.

After the attack, a large number of those involved rushed to delete their posts for fear of possible incrimination. It was because of this that @donk_enby set out to beat the 'rush' and archive what Parler content she could relating to the attack.

"I'd describe the current Parler archival situation as ‘a bunch of people running into a burning building trying to grab as many things as we can," wrote @donk_enby on Twitter.

@donk_enby needn't have worried. Parler's security was sub-standard and she was able to retrieve posts even after they'd been deleted, thanks to the fact Parler's public API used no authentication. This meant that only a delete flag was attached to deleted posts instead of the content being removed, and each deleted post had a numerical ID matching the ID of the most recently published version. Parler also didn't scrub geolocations from both videos and images that were posted.

All-in-all, this means that a sizeable number of posts will remain preserved for quite some time, allowing law enforcement agencies, among others, to access the content.

Since the Jan. 6 attack, Parler has been removed from the Apple, Google and Amazon app stores. Now its lax coding and security could lead to the arrest of many of its users.

(Script used by @donk_enby to automate the scraping)

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