Parler’s partial return is supported by a Russian tech firm with links to racist and conspiracy-theory sites

  • Parler’s new static webpage uses an internet protocol address owned by DDoS-Guard.
  • The Russian tech company has been linked to racist, far-right, and conspiracy sites.
  • Parler critics said it was a potential security risk for it to depend on a Russian company.

Parler, a social media website and app popular with the American far right, partially returned online on Sunday – with the help of a Russian-owned technology company.

Parler was dropped by website host Amazon Web Services (AWS) on January 11. AWS said the platform “poses a very real risk to public safety.” The site has since registered its domain with Epik and returned on Sunday as a static page containing a brief note from CEO John Matze.

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

DDoS-Guard has worked with racist, far-right, and conspiracy sites.

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

Read more: Parler reportedly spent $300,000 a month on Amazon’s cloud before it got banned, and it’s a sign that it won’t be so easy for the far-right social app to come back online

On Wednesday, January 13, Matze told Reuters the company was in talks with multiple service providers, but declined to elaborate.

Matze has since said he’s “confident” Parler will be fully operational by the end of January, and that the platform managed to retrieve its data from Amazon.

Evgeniy Marchenko, one of DDoS-Guard’s two founders and owners, told The Guardian that the company is a global information security service, and said it hosted “thousands of websites.” This includes Russian government sites and neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer.

It also previously worked with controversial Washington-based internet provider VanwaTech, which hosts the website of 8kun, a social-media site popular among QAnon supporters and used by rioters to plot the Capitol siege.

“We are not related to any politic issues and don’t want to be associated in any sense with customer hosting such toxic sites like QAnon/8chan,” Marchenko told The Guardian.

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 US, supporting outgoing US President Donald Trump and amplifying false narratives about election fraud and protests against police brutality.

Parler, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan” haven for free speech, had become a hub for President Donald Trump’s supporters after many of their Twitter accounts were purged from the social media site, alongside Trump’s own.

In the days after the Capitol siege on January 6, it became a haven for far-right activity and misinformation because of its lax stance on moderating content. Trump himself considered joining the site with the name “Person X,” Matze previously said.

Following the siege, Google and Apple swiftly barred the app from their app stores, and AWS took Parler offline. Parler has since hit the tech giant with an antitrust lawsuit, disputing Amazon’s claims that it repeatedly warned Parler about violent content.