The CEO of Parler, John Matze, on Tuesday denied viral rumors that the social media platform had been hacked, saying that “all allegations are fake” and that its critics “are just obsessed with us.”
Rumors that Parler, which has been described as an alternative to Twitter, trended on Twitter Tuesday under “#ParlerHacked” after a screenshot claiming to be of the app database surfaced online, purportedly showing that the site had been hacked.
Data scientist Kevin Abosch wrote on Twitter that he had seen a number of compromised Parler profiles, including the direct messages of some “well known figures.”
I’ve seen what looks like legit proof of 5000 compromised Parler accounts including DM’s of some well-known figures. Hackers decompiled the app, zero day exploit etc.. I wish I could unsee what I’ve seen.
— Kevin Abosch (@kevinabosch) November 24, 2020
“Hackers decompiled the app, zero day exploit etc. I wish I could unsee what I’ve seen,” Abosch wrote.
“The alleged ‘Parler hack’ is a screenshot from a WordPress website that has been circulated repeatedly over the past six months, despite Parler’s multiple responses that we do not use WordPress products, nor WordPress databases,” Matze wrote, denying the claim.
The disinformation campaign against Parler continues with false claims about #ParlerHacked. Here’s a statement from CEO John Matze. pic.twitter.com/4Ryn5EZ8gz
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) November 25, 2020
The Parler CEO described the allegation as an “irresponsible” rumor “which uses a ‘techie’ looking WordPress config file which is only capable of confusing a journalistic hack, not an actual hacker.”
“All of our databases are hidden behind multiple layers of security and are not accessible via the web,” Matze continued. “If Twitter continues to fact check others, they should also fact check posts such as these that spread viral misinformation.”
“Furthermore, we don’t store any personal data, user verification data is deleted on completion, and direct messages cannot send videos/images. All allegations are fake. They are just obsessed with us,” he added.
Parler stakeholder and conservative radio host Dan Bongino also weighed in to refute the rumors, stating that Twitter-verified tech entrepreneur William LeGate, who also shared the screenshot, “started another fake news story about Parler being hacked.”
A cautious tale! Many people, myself included, fell for this misinfo (the Parler screenshot of database credentials was legit, but private messages apparently not leaked – yet) https://t.co/eDBQ8UUdeH
— William LeGate 🇺🇸 (@williamlegate) November 25, 2020
LeGate tweeted earlier: “Turns out Parler left its database credentials unencrypted on a public API endpoint. I’ve redacted their server passwords, but this is very, very bad for Parler.”
Parler has seen a surge in active users in recent months. Matze has credited the platform’s growth to people’s distrust of large social media companies, amid a sharp increase in censorship on Twitter and Facebook.
The number of accounts on Parler skyrocketed from 4.5 million to over 10 million as of Nov. 12. Most of those users have been active in the past three months, according to internal data.
Parler bills itself as a free speech social network and “the solution to problems that have surfaced in recent years due to changes in big tech policy influenced by various special-interest groups.”
As Twitter, Facebook, and other large technology companies increasingly crack down on what they describe as misinformation, labeling posts and banning users, more people—primarily but not exclusively conservatives—have made accounts on Parler and other alternatives.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.