#ParlerHacked? US networking platform's co-founder denies rumours site has been breached

The details and direct messages of 5,000 Parler users are said to have been leaked online

(FILES) This file illustration picture shows the social media website from Parler displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020.  Conservatives backing President Donald Trump's claims of election malfeasance have sparked a migration to alternative social media sites which have refrained from filtering unverified claims. The shift has boosted right-wing favorites like Parler, Newsmax and Rumble which have rejected the approach of Facebook and Twitter in labeling and limiting the reach of conspiracy theories.
 / AFP / Olivier DOULIERY
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US microblogging and social networking platform Parler has allegedly been targeted by hackers, who released a screenshot of what is said to be the service's client database.

However, the platform's co-founder has denied the rumours, saying the screenshot comes from a site unconnected to Parler and has been circulating for months.

The platform, which has been billed as an alternative to Twitter, and attracts many users who have been kicked off or blocked by other social media apps, found itself trending with the hashtag #parlerhacked, as the database quickly spread online, said to reveal some big political names and direct messages sent by well-known figures.

Users are said to be disproportionately made up of conservatives and right-wing extremists.

“I’ve seen what looks like legit proof of 5,000 compromised Parler accounts including DMs of some well-known figures … I wish I would unsee what I’ve seen,” wrote user Kevin Abosch, who describes himself as a data scientist, on Twitter.

“Of course it wasn’t hard to hack!” wrote Twitter user @KristaAllenXO. “Everyone’s password was MAGA2020. #parlerhacked.”

The networking site’s motto is: “Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being 'deplatformed' for your views. Engage with real people, not bots. Parler is people and privacy-focused, and gives you the tools you need to curate your Parler experience.”

Conservative social media users were quick to hit back at allegations Parler had been compromised, with John Matze, who founded the site in 2018 with Jared Thomson, insisting: "The alleged 'Parler Hack' is a screenshot from a Wordpress website that has been circulated repeatedly over the last six months … All our databases are hidden behind multiple layers of security and are not accessible via the web."

While another user, Tim Young wrote: "Parler wasn't hacked ... but look at how excited nutty leftists are that the free speech app they can't stand might have been compromised ... pathetic. #ParlerHacked."

Journalist Mikael Thalen added that the screenshot in circulation was old, saying it was "for a site not held on the same infrastructure as the main site".

"This isn't to deny that a hack may have taken place, but that this screenshot is almost certainly unrelated."