Before the social media platform Parler was banned by various tech companies and went dark, hackers proudly downloaded as much data from the website as possible. They managed to save 70 TB of information on its users. While that data will hopefully prove useful to law enforcement in the future, for now, Parler is cooperating with investigations. So far, one arrest has been made thanks to identifying information given to the FBI on one of its users.
Eduard Florea, a 40-year-old man from New York City, was recently arrested after Parler handed information to the FBI. Florea was an active Parler user and a member of the Proud Boys. He allegedly commented, “Dead man can’t pass shit laws.” Yes, the poor grammar does make this comment extra special. He had many other caustic comments to add, but this was his favorite. Florea repeated new versions of it in discussions revolving around elected politicians. The FBI has said Florea threatened to kill senator-elect Raphael Warnock, of Georgia. So far, he’s been arrested on a federal weapons charge. He had stockpiled more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Florea was denied bond and remains in jail at this time.
While Florea’s posts made it sound like he would be ready to go to the Capitol Riots, he did not actually attend. He seemed to be busy at home, posting on Parler, making threats, and stockpiling weapons. Florea’s username on the platform was “LoneWolfWar”. He was identified after Parler provided the FBI with his phone number. The FBI used that number to confirm his identity with T-Mobile.
It is unknown at this time whether Parler gave the information to the FBI of their own accord or due to a warrant.
So far, the Department of Justice says they have opened over 160 investigations into people at the Capitol Riots. It is expected they will be opening more cases soon. It’s unknown how much cooperation investigators will be getting from Parler, though with how much information the platform collected on its users with the Real ID feature, the social network will likely prove a useful source of information.
Currently, Parler is offline. The CEO of Parler has said his site may be permanently shut down. This past week, the social media platform had their app pulled from the Google Play store and then Apple. This was followed by Amazon refusing to host the site on its servers any longer. Now, Parler is suing Amazon, attempting to get their site back online. Other hosting services are refusing service to the company.
If Parler does manage to get back online, it’s hard to imagine that the FBI investigations will be good press for the site. While it’s normal for tech companies to work with law enforcement in these instances, it doesn’t seem like something that will go over well with their core demographic.
This begs the question: Is a social media platform like Parler a sustainable business plan? Gab seems quite happy to take on the Parler refugees. Perhaps they aren’t daunted by the predictable possibility of conversations with the FBI about their users. Whatever the thinking is, while Parler may have been a convenient Twitter alternative, it wasn’t a place for extremists to hide. The Department of Justice will likely have a lot more inquiries for the social network on its former users soon.