“Parler’s amateur coding could come back to haunt Capitol Hill rioters”

“Parler’s site was a mess. Its public API used no authentication. When users deleted their posts, the site failed to remove the content and instead only added a delete flag to it. Oh, and each post carried a numerical ID that was incremented from the ID of the most recently published one.

The rookie code made it easy to automate the scraping, as this script used by donk_enby’s archival team demonstrates. As a result, massive numbers of posts that discussed the insurrection before, during, and after it was carried out will be preserved indefinitely so that they’re available to researchers, journalists, prosecutors, and others.

Another amateur mistake was Parler’s failure to scrub geolocations from images and videos posted online.”

25 thoughts on ““Parler’s amateur coding could come back to haunt Capitol Hill rioters”

  1. The joke around my office is that the Mercer’s bankrolled the coding with those features deliberately put in there as part of their sealed plea deal with the FBI, who were watching all the time..
    Look what they did with Crypto AG….

  2. Oh and I do understand that Parler being taken down didn’t implicate the 1st Amendment because it was not taken down by the government. But I think it would be a good thing for a platform to exist for protected speech. But what do I know, I am not on any social media platforms, not even facebook.

    1. And what of Freedom of Association?

      Both are important but the GOP can’t seem to understand that there can’t be absolutes on either. They seem to be all in on Speech (while protecting racists) while failing to grasp that people may not want to associate with racists.

      1. My comment above was supposed to be a reply to my comment below, but it posted as a new comment for some reason. In my original comment I noted that popular ideas don’t need 1st Amendment protection. But of course the deplatforming of Parler didn’t implicate the 1st Amendment. You are right that Apple, Amazon, and every other corporation or person is free not to associate with Parler or any other company. But the Parler situation does occur at the intersection of competing values. On the one hand there is the valued desire to be protected from dangerous speech. On the other is the value of freedom of speech itself. Private companies have every right to police speech on their platforms. But it is concerning if a handful of companies can in effect ban certain speech from the Internet. What I was suggesting in my original post was a platform that allowed unregulated speech, but did not allow anonymous registrations and most importantly kept a record of all posts and messages that could be turned over to law enforcement on presentation of an appropriate court order or warrant. That would allow people to discuss unpopular ideas (hence my 1st Amendment reference). But if such discussion crossed over into illegal speech, it could be prosecuted. It’s just a thought. I can see issues with it including the fact that a platform that didn’t allow anonymous posts might struggle to find interested users.

        1. It’s not true that the platforms ‘ban certain speech’ from the internet.

          What you see here is what happens when idiot Trump supporters don’t have the education or background to actually put in the legwork to make a decent platform.

          It’s never been about free speech. For Trump supporters, it’s always ‘we should be entitled to everything and everywhere to spout bullshit, and we’ll get a persecution complex if you say no.’

          The problem is, typically if you’re dumb enough to believe Trump, then you’re probably not the most intelligent person in the world to begin with. Hence, the idiotic idea of creating an API without authentication.There’s millions of websites that exist just fine without Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, among others. It’s just the fact that you actually have to know what the hell you’re doing, which doesn’t exactly go hand in hand with the type of people who support Donald Trump.

          1. Parler will eventually make it back to the Internet. But the vast majority of websites and social media platforms are hosted by a small number of companies. Perhaps they can’t permanently ban speech, but they can put significant impediments in its path.

            Honestly, I have no idea if Parler was created by Trump supporters, for Trump supporters specifically, or if Trump supporters gravitated there because of its “hands off” policy. But I think the real problem with a platform that does not regulate content is that it can be used to organize violence and other criminal activity in secret. Anonymity also encourages some people to forget basic decency and spew hate from their keyboard. But a third issue is the way so much of the Internet allows people to only listen to people that they agree with. I just heard GOP pollster Frank Lutz report that 50% of Trump voters believe Trump won the 2020 election. It reminds me of the percentage of people that believed 9/11 conspiracies 15 year ago. It is both scary and depressing.

          2. Honestly, I think some of Parler’s “features” are deliberate. Its funded in part by the Mercer family and given their history of farming user data I wouldn’t be surprised by its weak security.

          3. All I know about Parler is that it is a social media platform that didn’t have (or didn’t enforce) restrictions on hate speech or advocacy of violence and that it was used to organize the attack on the Capitol. Since it was used to organize the attack, I am very happy they didn’t protect their data as that should help those investigating the attack. People can say it proves what idiots Trump supporters are. But what really proves what idiots the rioting Trump supporters are is the fact that so many of them pulled down their masks inside the Capitol in view of security cameras. Of course if they had kept their masks up it would have ruined the selfies they took sitting in the Speakers chair in the House chamber or sitting at Pelosi’s desk in her office. Also, if they kept the masks on their fellow rioting morons would have mocked them for believing Covid 19 is actually real instead of what it really is (a Deep State hoax).

        2. Where are all those right wing free speech advocates calling for non disclosure agreements to be banned?

          1. Trying to get everyone who knows about their role in the insurrection to sign non-disclosure agreements, I assume.

  3. I am wondering if Parler’s lazy/incompetent coding might not be something they should make an advertised feature. What if Parler or some other platform were to offer an unregulated platform where people could say anything they wanted, but where nothing could be deleted? Or at least that the platform would retain copies of everything that could be made available to law enforcement with a court order/warrant. The platform could also require users to provide proof of their identity even if they weren’t required to sign their real name to posts. That might offer the best of both worlds where there was unrestricted free speech, but where people could be held accountable for that speech if it violated the law. That might well make it a place for people to discuss unpopular ideas (popular ideas don’t need 1st Amendment protections) yet make it of little use to those seeking to organize criminal conspiracies or promote violence.

  4. I thank god that the would-be authoritarians and fascists are so stupid and incompetent. They believe their own daydreams about how ineffectual their enemies are, and how smart they themselves are. John Galts, every one of them. And they believe Trump is a brilliant man! Just ask our own Brobonk.

    People who defend democracy and the rule of law must NOT fall into the same trap. It would be easy to do so now, but we have to assume that there are SMART fascists out there. They have seen how close these nitwits came, and they will try again. And they can find billionaires to back them, at least once this travesty fades.

    Oh, god, this could cause another Red Scare, only it will be a Fascist Scare, couldn’t it? Well, we have to hope the defenders of democracy are better than that. What else can we do?

    1. You don’t understand, man. Sucking up to Putin, the incompetent pandemic response, getting trounced in the election, the extensive whining, these are all part of Rump’s master plan! He’s playing 3-D chess while you’re wearing mammoth pelts and banging two rocks together! Watch for it: he’s going to own the libs just SO HARD!! He’s living rent-free in your shorts.

      1. Nature Mom, a REAL Rump supporter would say he is playing *5*D chess. In fact, our very own Brobonk said that in this thread, about halfway down.

        Otherwise, excellent example of modern Republican prose! I LOL’d.

        1. Yeah I know he wouldn’t be around to say these things, just picking up the slack. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I MISS him but here may be shades of incipient Stockholm Syndrome.

    2. “I thank god that the would-be authoritarians and fascists are so stupid and incompetent. ”

      Amen to that, Roger, but the alarm bell has sounded. We now know how fragile our government is, and how thin is the line protecting it. The next would-be autocrat may not be a Trump with the bumbling moves and obvious lies. The next guy may be sneaky, and subtle and smart and lacking in fatally pathological narcissism. He may be able to win over the deplorables while he woos the middle class.

      Take note of the fact that Trump lost the election only because of his own poorly conceived strategy – appealing only to his base. Dumb! If he simply ignored his base he would have gotten their votes anyway. Trump only needed to seem reasoned and prudent, and to give lip service to fighting COVID, and he would have won enough suburban voters to win the swing states. We can thank heaven that his massive ego won’t let him do that. He has to hold his deranged rallies to hear the chants of approval from his cult.

      But the next guy behind him will have Trump’s autocratic ambitions and will not be saddled with Trump’s psychological baggage. He will win the base, lock them in, and then go after the mainstream voters with talk of unity and brotherhood.

      I think the religious nutbags have a word for that guy, The Antichrist. The problem is that they will be the first ones to support him!

      “Let no one deceive you in any way; the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat, declaring himself to be God. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

      — 2 Thessalonians

      To cite Bishop Sheen’s interpretation:

      “The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers… he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves… He will tempt Christians with the same three temptations with which he tempted Christ… He will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. He will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch… It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.”

      That almost, but not quite, describes Trump. In essence, Donald John the Trump is to the Antichrist as John the Baptist was to the original model. He has been paving the way.

      1. I agree entirely, UncleScoopy. I have some concern that the fear of the next would-be tyrant will go too far, but the opposite is almost certainly the real problem, at least for now.

        There are now far too many people who despise democracy, because it only gives them Democrats, who they have been trained to hate, or Republicans, who do nothing for them because they really serve only billionaires. They seek a hero, a strong man, and that is fundamentally the wrong answer, and the road to Trump 2.0.

        I am also surprised. It would not have occurred to me you know the Bible that well. (I myself have no Bible knowledge.) Judging a webmaster by the front page of his website is indeed a mistake, as the old saying goes.

        1. I enjoy the bible. It is integral to the development of western civilization, and without it, it’s basically impossible to understand European history and literature

          To get personal for a sec:

          I have several acquaintances who profess to be Christians, but have extremely limited knowledge of the bible and the words of Jesus. They always seem surprised when I know the bible, since I’m not religious.

          My family is an odd mix of Jews, Christians and atheists, and I totally suck at all three of those things, but I know a little about religion because English literature was once my academic field. It’s so full of biblical references that you have to have a pretty good working knowledge of the good book if you want to be a lit scholar, which I once aspired to be. Then I determined that I had to choose between that career and paying the bills. It seems inconceivable to me now, but I once (barely) survived on teaching wages and an occasional acting gig.

          Also I consider myself a cultural Christian, if there is such a thing. I don’t believe in the divine, but I do believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a great figure and a great teacher. As a result, I do have great love and admiration for the gospels and their lessons, and I do go back and re-read parts of them from time to time.

          Unfortunately, this just reminds me that many who profess to believe in the divinity of Jesus tend to ignore most of what he taught unless it somehow benefits them personally.

        2. Also:

          I think the comments on this blog show that guys who like naked chicks can be recondite and erudite as well as horny. Those things are not mutually exclusive. The comments on this insignificant page of soft-core titillation include some pretty interesting discussions about politics, current events, entertainment, sports, history, science and economics.

          And, I suppose, even religion once in a while.

          Plus there’s a good joke in there from time to time.

          I learn a lot from reading the comments.

          1. Hear, hear. This, as we now say. Or, Self, as we don’t. I do, a geek’s joke.

            I’m an atheist. Raised to go to church & bible school, by an atheist dad. Went thru my “agnostic” phase. Before I grew up & learned “rigor” IRL is most often shenanigans, a trick of Satan. I still majored in math.

            I’m not as “literate” as Scoops, but more so than 99% of USians. As in, I mostly read SF as a kid, but in 2021 hindsight, I find I did read most of the “top 100” lists of both US & English novels. I’d never aspired to. I just enjoyed them. The Bible informs so much of Eng Lit. It’s full of brilliant insights I wish more of us had in our heads. Eg, as wise Saruman said in Echo 9-1-1:

            “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

            Behavioral science tells us the obvious: We who’ve been fortunate are in denial about our luck. We take sole credit for our success. Perspective threatens our legitimacy. We can’t allow it. We never give an inch.

          2. “The race is not to the swift.”

            This was especially true in the Aztec games, where the winner got his heart cut out as propitiation to Huitzilopochtli, who would only accept the champion as a suitable offering. In my former life as the guy well known to be the world’s swiftest Aztec, I finished second in the sprint for about thirty consecutive years. One time I blew a 35 cuahuitl lead in the 40-cuahuitl dash. I told the sports reporter for the Moctezuma Gazette that I was discouraged, of course, but really looking forward to getting my heart cut out next year.

          3. That is my favorite Bible quote, MikeP, because in his essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell translated it into academic-speak:

            “Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

            That was the academic language of the 1940’s, of course. It would probably be much worse today.

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