Parler website partially returns with support from Russian-owned technology firm | Social media

Mabel R. Acton

Parler, the social network popular with Donald Trump supporters, has partially returned online with the help of a Russian-owned technology company.

The network vanished from the internet after it was dropped by Amazon’s hosting arm and other partners over a lack of moderation after its users called for violence and posted videos glorifying the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.

On Monday, Parler’s website was reachable again, though only with a message from its chief executive, John Matze, saying he was working to restore functionality.

The internet protocol (IP) address it used is owned by DDos-Guard, which is controlled by two Russian men and provides services including protection from distributed denial of service attacks, infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette told Reuters.

DDoS-Guard’s other clients include the Russian ministry of defence, as well as media organisations in Moscow. Until recently, it offered 8kun – which was previously known as 8chan – protection from DDoS. Last week, DDoS-Guard became the latest company to cut ties with 8kun’s hosting company, VanwaTech, following inquiries from the Guardian.

If Parler’s “free speech” website is fully restored, users would be able to see and post comments. Most users prefer the app, however, which remains banned from the official Apple and Google stores.

Matze and representatives of DDoS-Guard did not reply to requests for comment.

On Wednesday last week, Matze told Reuters the company was in talks with multiple service providers but declined to elaborate.

DDoS-Guard was registered in 2017 under a limited partnership, a financial structure in Scotland that allows nonresidents to create companies with little scrutiny. Aleksei Likhachev and Evgeniy Marchenko, two Russian businessmen who registered it, remain owners of the company. The partnership under which DDoS-Guard is registered is called Cognitive Cloud and is listed at an address in Edinburgh’s Forth Street.

Speaking from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don last week, Marchenko told the Guardian DDoS-Guard was a global information security service that hosted “thousands of websites”.

Parler critics said it was a potential security risk for it to depend on a Russian company, as well as an odd choice for a site popular with self-described patriots.

Russian propaganda has stoked political divisions in the United States, supporting Trump and amplifying false narratives about election fraud but also protests against police brutality.

Parler, which disclosed it has more than 12 million users, sued Amazon last week after the cloud services provider cut off service, citing poor moderation of calls to violence.

In an update on Monday, Parler.com linked to a Fox News interview in which Matze said he was “confident” Parler would return at the end of January.

With Reuters

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