- Parler is sharing information with the FBI on federal investigations into the Capitol riot.
- An FBI affidavit shows that Parler gave information that helped FBI agents identify and locate a Proud Boys supporter arrested on suspicion of making threats on Parler.
- Tech companies typically help law-enforcement agencies with these types of requests. But the cooperation could have unusually significant consequences for Parler users who organised violence at the Capitol on January 6.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Parler is sharing information with the FBI for the Department of Justice’s investigations into the riot at the US Capitol.
An affidavit from an FBI special agent filed in court Tuesday says Eduardo Florea stockpiled more than 1,000 rounds of ammo and threatened to kill Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
The affidavit says the FBI received records from Parler to identify the user behind the account “LoneWolfWar,” where the threats originated. Parler provided the phone number associated with the account, the affidavit says, and the FBI used it, and info from T-Mobile, to identify Florea.
Florea, a professed supporter of the Proud Boys, a neofascist pro-Trump group with chapters across the US, was denied bond and remains in jail while awaiting trial.
Florea ultimately didn’t travel to Washington, DC, for the protest turned insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The affidavit says that on that day, though, Florea posted that New York, where he lives, was “target rich.”
It’s not clear whether Parler handed over the account information to the FBI after the Department of Justice issued a warrant or subpoena for it or whether the company gave the information over of its own accord.
It is typical for major tech platforms to cooperate with law-enforcement requests. Local and federal prosecutors routinely obtain the location and text-message history of suspects from mobile phone carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T as well as direct messages from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
As Insider’s Madison Hall reported, Parler also recently cooperated with a separate FBI investigation, in a case against Michael Reyes, who’s accused of threatening to kill President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Court documents show that Parler provided the email address, phone number, signup IP address, and creation date of an account where the threats were made, and associated with Reyes, after the “FBI submitted an exigent request to Parler for subscriber information.”
Extremists used Parler to organise violence at the Capitol
But the knowledge that Parler is cooperating with law enforcement for cases related to the Capitol insurrection could create problems for the social-media platform.
Parler has a large user base of far-right extremists. The Department of Justice says many of those people used the platform to organise violence at the Capitol.
It has also become a haven for people barred from other social-media outlets â€” such as Lin Wood, who has spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 US election and used Twitter to call for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts â€” as well as right-wing media personalities, such as the Fox News host Mark Levin, who believe they can’t freely express themselves on other platforms.
The platform has been offline since Monday when Amazon, which hosted its servers, cut it off, saying it “cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.” Before that decision, Apple and Google booted Parler’s app from their smartphone app stores.
Parler and Amazon are involved in a lawsuit over the service cancellation, where Amazon has detailed some of the violent and threatening messages on the platform in court filings. Parler CEO John Matze has sought another host for the service but has also said the platform might shut down permanently.
Representatives for Parler didn’t immediately provide comment because a spokesperson was “out to lunch right now” and later “swamped with calls.” Representatives for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is overseeing investigations related to the Capitol riot, also didn’t respond to requests for comment from Insider. A representative for the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where Florea was arrested, declined to comment.
The Department of Justice on Tuesday said it had opened more than 160 investigations into people at the Capitol on January 6, with more expected.
Many of the court filings publicly available in relation to those cases so far show investigations based on publicly available social-media activity rather than information obtained directly from social-media companies.
Members of the pro-Trump mob livestreamed their activities or allowed themselves to be photographed while storming the Capitol. The documents also show that federal agents physically searched phones and reviewed screenshots of messages sent to acquaintances.
Most of the information in court filings was supplied to establish just cause for officials to arrest the people suspected of participating in the insurrection. Prosecutors normally provide more information when filing an indictment and when bringing evidence for a trial.
Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.