South African Parler users spotted following data dump


(Image credit: parler)

Parler, an alternate social media app dominated by alt-right and right-wing users, was banned by Google and then dropped by Amazon Web Services but not before hackers could do a data dump and expose its users. 

Parler has been a hot topic for a while as it became known as the go-to site for far-right individuals whose content was getting taken down on more mainstream sites like Twitter and Facebook for contravening their rules. It was started by two conservative programmers in the US who were rallying for a true “free speech” platform. 

The app became even more infamous and now banned, as it is believed to be a key portal through which many of the rioters planned the attempted coup at the Capitol in the US on January 6. 

On the same day a hacker who goes by the Twitter name @donk_enbybegan archiving posts.  She eventually gathered together 56 terabytes of data, which eventually resulted in capturing 99.9% of the content on the app. 

This has saved the content which would have been lost following Amazon’s shutdown. It has also helped law enforcement find those who stormed the Capitol and posted videos while they were there. 

South Africa’s users exposed 

Disinformation researcher Jean le Roux posted a link to the interactive map visualisation of this data dump for South Africa on Twitter. 

The map showed all the locations where a user uploaded a video while having their geolocation on and the results are very interesting. Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria all feature which is understandable since they are the biggest cities. 

A user even crops up in Robertson and near the shoreline in Park Rynie. 

The map doesn’t show the kind of content that was shared, just where exactly it was sent from. Depending on the GPS signal of the phone, some of these locations are accurate right into the person’s back garden. 

The video metadata from the Parler data dump has been visualised on an interactive map, and even the sleepy town of Robertson features: geolocation data is quite granular, but dependent on the phone’s GPS accuracy at the time. 13, 2021

January 14, 2021
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