Amazon Web Services stopped hosting Parler. Here's why it may not be coming back - Technical.ly

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Jan. 11, 2021 2:46 pm

Amazon Web Services stopped hosting Parler. Here’s why it may not be coming back

Dave Troy, a Baltimore-based entrepreneur and disinformation specialist, offers a look at the implications of actions by big tech companies to boot a social media service favored by Trump supporters.
A Trump-supporting mob ascends the Capitol steps in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

A Trump-supporting mob ascends the Capitol steps in D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

(Screenshot via NBC News)

This guest post is adopted from a Twitter thread by Dave Troy, a Baltimore-based entrepreneur and disinformation specialist. It was reposted with permission.

Now that Amazon Web Services has announced it will no longer host Parler, many have speculated that the social networking service, which recently became a favorite of supporters of President Donald Trump, will just “find another host.” Here is why that’s not so simple and what it will likely mean for the app’s future.

First, let’s look at where things are.

Google and Apple have removed the app from their app stores, effectively terminating growth on mobile devices. Parler CEO John Matze has said the app may be down for “up to a week” while they find new hosting.

Translated to English, that’s code for, “We have no idea what’s going to happen next.” No U.S. cloud provider (Microsoft, Google, IBM, Digital Ocean) is likely to touch this, as it could be seen as providing material support for sedition. No CEO or counsel wants to get near this.

Parler could potentially “roll their own” data center by buying servers and putting them in a co-location facility. But that’s a single point of failure, and many colo providers would be just as likely to decline their business. It would be hard and risky to pursue this.

Imagine, after they sweated like pigs to get this hardware all set up, if they get told their colo provider is booting them. That’s a lot of metal to then move somewhere else. Meanwhile, the user base is deteriorating because of chaos and dying apps. They will go to other venues.

They also have a nascent, barely existent business model that generates little to no revenue. That means this all is nothing but expense for the woman who took credit for this terror network, Rebekah Mercer. There may be other undocumented funders in NDMASCENDANT, too.

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Matze has family connections to Russia. We should assume he is getting offers of hosting there. If he hosts Parler there, it becomes open to NSA surveillance. If he accepts material support from Russia in support of sedition here, it could be seen as treason. Hm.

Additionally, any material relationship with Russian interests would require registration under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act § 951. And all this in the context of having dead, banned apps, with only a web UX for distribution —with users leaving in droves, and funds draining rapidly.

Other bad actor hosts like the Jim Watkins/VanWaTech group are likely also offering to help. They are enabled by a company called CNSERVERS in Vancouver, Washington. Guess what “CN” stands for? You guessed it. China. Their infrastructure is sometimes backed by assets in Russia and China. Watkins/VanWa hosts a lot of awful stuff including brand-name Nazi sites, a range of MAGA stuff, and borderline child porn. They are able to keep this online because they use a Netherlands-based firm to protect against distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks.

It is possible that Matze and Mercer will join the Watkins portfolio of well-known Nazis and White Supremacists. But Mercer doesn’t generally enjoy that kind of limelight. I suspect she will decline to go this route.

The sane answer is to GIVE UP. Here is why.

Parler can never be a viable business, realistically. Even Twitter has struggled to make money, and it’s far bigger and more established. In fact, Parler is so far away from being able to make money, the Mercers had to know that it would never do so. So why pursue it at all? They built Parler for multiple reasons.

So they now have a lot of data. Section 230 is likely to be visited for revision at some point soon. And people are now more radicalized than they were. Their app is dead. Their hosting is done. People are onto them, their funding and Russia connections. Time to stop.

Rebekah Mercer is not stupid. Her sister is a professional poker player. They saw this “company” as a round of poker designed to provoke certain outcomes, with high upsides and low downsides. That round of poker is at a natural stopping point.

Should Matze/Wernick/Bongino/Peikoff decide to soldier on and go full zombie mode, they can try to do that. They probably can’t do so without Mercer support, or material help from foreign nationals. Any U.S. person risks sedition charges. And indeed, so do they.

Given the near zero possibility of survival, I assess that all involved will likely terminate this kamikaze mission, take the data they harvested, use it for future ops, share it with the Russian government in trade for something and move on to a new venture.

If for some reason they decide to do the unwise thing and try to survive this, their upstream ISP and DDOS protection vendor will become targets of derision, public pressure, and investigation by law enforcement. For all these reasons, I think Parler ends today.

And for those of you who did not see the viral thread I did in November on Parler’s improbable founding story, opaque funding, and Matze’s ties to Russia, please check it out here.

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