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Parler’s new home online

Parler’s new home online

Good morning! Hope you had a great long weekend. This Tuesday, the internet is investigating the Capitol riots and it's as messy as you'd expect, Parler is slowly making its way back online, Apple is going back to its roots for new Macs and Joe Biden is about to be president.

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The Big Story

The internet police are on the case

One feature of practically any event in 2021 so far is that it is Extremely Online. And as we've seen in the days since the riots at the Capitol, that's a hugely complicated thing. Particularly given that vast amounts of data, mostly from Parler, are now available for anyone to comb through.

  • "Scores of amateur sleuths are combing through terabytes of footage and openly trading tips on Twitter," Protocol's Issie Lapowsky wrote, "in hopes of piecing together the rioters' identities and bringing them to justice."
  • Researchers, she found, are hugely divided on the practice: It's either a boon to those trying to find the truth, or a study in conclusion-jumping and accidentally putting the wrong people at risk. Or maybe both?

The videos taken from Parler are remarkable, providing multiple firsthand accounts of the riots. ProPublica put together a 500-video timeline from many different users, after reviewing about 2,500 that were deemed to be likely related to the riot.

  • It's like the most chaotic, frenetic documentary you've ever seen, and it's incredibly revealing. It makes clear exactly what the rioters intended to do, the crimes they were shouting about committing and the illegal things they did on camera. Because it's 2021, and there's always a camera.

But it's one thing that all those videos exist; it's another that they're being indexed, collated and systematically analyzed.

  • The videos and other data sparked all sorts of efforts to bring people to justice, rallying under names like #SeditionHunters. They and their commenters are constantly naming names and doxing suspects. Sometimes they're right! And sometimes they're not.
  • Their tools and methods raise questions, too. "I have this overarching thesis that the internet turns us all into cops," Harvard professor Joan Donovan told Issie. "These are technologies of surveillance, and so use of them by the public to turn crowds into cops seems to me to be a very dangerous impulse."

More Platforms

Parler's (sort of) back

John Matze, Parler's CEO, told Fox News over the weekend that "by the end of the month, we'll be back up." That's barely a week removed from his confessing he wasn't sure if Parler would ever come back.

But back Parler came, largely thanks to Epik, the hosting provider we've been talking about here that's become a friendly home to Gab, The Daily Stormer, 8kun and other similar platforms.

  • Matze also said he recovered Parler's data from Amazon. Which is not surprising, given that practically everyone on Earth seems to have access to Parler's data at this point. (Whenever Parler does get back online, it's going to have some big security questions to answer.)
  • But Parler has raised even more eyebrows by apparently working with DDoS Guard, a Russian security company that reportedly cut ties with 8kun after the riots at the Capitol.

Right now, Parler is just a static website with a few messages from Matze and others. And it's not back in app stores, either. Tim Cook allowed for the possibility that Parler might make it back into the App Store, but only if "they get their moderation together."

  • Cook also said this to Fox News: "We obviously don't control what's on the internet, but we've never viewed that our platform should be a simple replication of the internet. We have rules and regulations, and we just ask that people abide by those."

In related news: Podcasts are already looking like the next front in the moderation wars, ABC reported, as QAnon believers in particular have fled to shows like Red Pill News and X22 Report.

Apple

Old Macs, new iPhones

Lots of new details about Apple's 2021 plans emerged over the last few days, all courtesy of Bloomberg:

  • Apple's reportedly planning new MacBook Pros that run a next generation of Apple's M1 processors, ditch the Touch Bar and bring back the MagSafe chargers. It sounds like all of Apple's old-but-good ideas and none of its recent bad ones, and every Mac fan I know is very excited.
  • A redesigned iMac and Mac Pro could be coming this year, too, with a new design and Apple's new chips.
  • It's also apparently working on a foldable iPhone, though that apparently wouldn't come until 2022.

The main takeaway here: Apple's shift to its own silicon is going really well. Apple knows how finicky high-end users are — they're the movie studios who hated the trash can Mac Pro, and the creative types who hated the butterfly keyboards — and it clearly feels good about the M-series chips if it's already pushing them into those machines.

Also, you might want to start preparing the IT team for a spike in "I need a new computer" requests this year.

A MESSAGE FROM SYNCHRONY

SYNCHRONY

Contactless payments are no longer a nice to have.

At Synchrony, we understand the challenges of running a business. Our financial and technology solutions, like touchless payment tools, help you offer your customers more tailored experiences, so they keep coming back.

Learn more about our solutions.

People Are Talking

GitHub reinstated an employee it had fired for warning colleagues to stay safe from Nazis, and COO Erica Brescia said an investigator found the whole thing was a mistake:

  • "The investigation revealed significant errors of judgment and procedure. Our head of HR has taken personal accountability and resigned … To the employee we wish to say publicly: We sincerely apologize."

In that Fox interview, Tim Cook also explained what he hopes for Apple's new racial-justice programs:

  • "I think it's the absence of opportunity. It goes back to that. And so what we're trying to do with this program is give people the opportunity."

Ro Khanna and Shaun Modi argued the government should hire a chief experience officer:

  • "Our nation's failure to invest in federal and state information technology has severely restricted our ability to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. That's why the country needs a new federal officer in charge of the American citizen's digital experience."

On Protocol: Big Tech needs to get better at talking about big data, said Amazon's Anne Toth:

  • "These technologies are getting more and more sophisticated, and when they work really well, sometimes we're delighted, and sometimes we're creeped out. It's that balancing act of like, 'Wait a minute, that was really useful … should I be worried?'"

Coming This Week

Joe Biden's inauguration is on Wednesday, which means there's likely to be a lot of chaos online and off in the next few days. And expect a lot of signaling (and executive order-ing) from the new administration.

Earnings season is back, baby! IBM, Netflix and Intercom all report this week.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: Trump officials and conservatives quietly met in Las Vegas to discuss "woke tech," China and "the new slave power." U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas AG Ken Paxton were listed on the agenda.
  • The Trump administration is revoking Intel's license to sell to Huawei, Reuters reported. Intel is apparently just one of many suppliers that will lose their licenses.
  • Google denied that its alleged ad-buying arrangement with Facebook was anticompetitive. New reports over the weekend claimed that Google offered Facebook more time to bid for ads and more information on who'd receive them than competitors.
  • JioMart will be embedded within WhatsApp within six months, Mint reported. The integration would come around a year after Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms.
  • On Protocol: SAP and Oracle are fighting over startups. Both are trying to cast off reputations as stodgy tech providers by making a huge push to provide their software to startups.
  • Apple might launch a paid podcast subscription, The Information reported. It would compete with existing offerings from Luminary and SiriusXM, and a planned product from Spotify.
  • The FAA approved the first fully-automated commercial drone flights. American Robotics is now allowed to fly in U.S. airspace without anyone monitoring the drones on site.
  • The U.S. asked Australia not to make Facebook and Google pay for news. It called the proposed legislation "extraordinary" and "fundamentally imbalanced," and suggested it could breach the U.S.-Australia free trade agreement.
  • Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Lee's back in prison over bribery charges, having previously been released in 2018.

One More Thing

Don't drink and Lime

A woman on the Isle of Wight achieved the dubious distinction of being the first person in the U.K. to be convicted of drunk scootering. She ran a red light and nearly hit a police car, and has been banned from driving for two years. How'd the cops catch her? They chased her. On foot. Because she was on a scooter.

A MESSAGE FROM SYNCHRONY

SYNCHRONY A MESSAGE FROM SYNCHRONY

Contactless payments are no longer a nice to have.

At Synchrony, we understand the challenges of running a business. Our financial and technology solutions, like touchless payment tools, help you offer your customers more tailored experiences, so they keep coming back.

Learn more about our solutions.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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