Vice - January 12, 2021

With Twitter's permanent ban of Donald Trump and tens of thousands of QAnon-linked accounts following the Capitol takeover on Wednesday, many of Trump’s followers planned to make a new home on Parler, the “free speech” alternative that has become known for hosting far-right content.

Those plans hit a snag when Amazon Web Services, Google, and Apple deplatformed Parler, effectively erasing it off the internet, at least temporarily. Parler was an organizing and rallying point for the far-right, including many of the Capitol Hill insurrectionists, and so its erasure from the internet threatened to destroy months of posts that could be used to better understand the attack on the Capitol. 

But the quick thinking of a self-described hacker by the name of donk_enby and a host of amateur data hoarders preserved more than 56.7 terabytes of data from Parler that donk_enby and open source investigators believe could be useful in piecing together what happened last Wednesday and in the weeks and months leading up to it. donk_enby was able to scrape and capture and archive nearly the entire content of the website after it became clear that hundreds of Trump supporters had uploaded potentially incriminating photos and videos of themselves to the platform, many filming from inside the Capitol itself.

When news of donk_enby's archival efforts broke, several viral tweets, Reddit posts, and Facebook posts claimed that she had captured private information, scans of drivers licenses and IDs, and other highly sensitive information. She said those posts are “not at all” accurate.

“Everything we grabbed was publicly available on the web, we just made a permanent public snapshot of it,” donk_enby told me.

Nevertheless, with the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and open-source investigators looking for media from Wednesday's attack, the archive could be highly useful to a whole host of people.

“I hope that it can be used to hold people accountable and to prevent more death,” she said. “I think people should be allowed to have their own opinion as long as they can act civilized, on Wednesday we saw what can happen if they don’t.”  ...
Read full report at Vice