Parler, a social media website popular with U.S. right-wing groups, has partially returned online with the apparent help of a Russina-based technology company, according to reports on January 18.
The far-right-friendly social network went offline on January 11 after being kicked off Amazon Web Services (AWS) over allegations it failed to properly police violent content.
Messages of support for the violence that shocked the United States in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol and calls for new protests had flourished on the platform before the AWS move and led Apple and Google to remove the Parler app from their stores.
Parler’s website was reachable again on January 18, but only with a message from its chief saying he was working to restore its functionality. Messaging services were not active.
The Internet protocol address it used is owned by DDos-Guard, which is controlled by two Russian men, according to Reuters and Dave Temkin, vice president of network and systems at Netflix.
“Parler is back up, and being hosted by “DDOS GUARD” out of Russia,” Temkin said on Twitter. “If that’s not an obvious sign of its malfeasance, there’s nothing else that could possibly be shown to convince you.”
U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have said Russia has meddled in U.S. elections through propaganda efforts and hacking aimed at stoking political divisions, manipulating public opinion, and supporting outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump. Russia has denied the allegations.
DDos-Guard generally provides services such as protection from distributed denial of service attacks, Reuters quoted infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette as saying.
Parler CEO John Matze and representatives of DDoS-Guard did not reply to requests for comment, Reuters said.
In an update on January 18, Parler.com linked to a Fox News interview in which Matze said he was “confident” Parler would return at the end of January.
DDoS-Guard has worked with racist, right-wing, and conspiracy sites that have been used to share messages, and it has also supported Russian government sites, Reuters said.
DDoS-Guard’s website lists an address in Scotland under the company name Cognitive Cloud LP, but Guilmette told Reuters that it is owned by two men in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
Temkin’s tweet included a screen shot of Parler’s URL registration that also lists Rostov-on-Don as the address.
Parler filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon last week after AWS cut off its service, but Amazon defended its decision because Parler had shown an “unwillingness and inability” to remove violent content.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said Parler could return to the App Store if it changes how it moderates posts.
Cook justified the suspension because of “the incitement to violence,” but on January 17 said on Fox News: “We’ve only suspended them. So, if they get their moderation together, they would be back on” the App Store.”