According to The Washington Post, the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee has asked the FBI for a “robust examination” of the conservative social media site Parler’s alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who requested the investigation on Thursday, also said her committee will begin its own formal probe into Parler and other sites like it, adding that it is a “top priority” to answer questions about Parler — including its reported ties to Russia.
Her letter Thursday singled out Parler’s use of a Russian-owned Web services company, DDoS-Guard, that also has Russian government clients and may leave Parler vulnerable to data requests by Russian agencies.
“I am going to get to the bottom of who owns and funds social media platforms like Parler that condone and create violence,” Maloney said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Parler officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment made after Maloney’s office released its letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. The company previously has defended its handling of posts related to the assault on the Capitol and accused those seeking to knock it offline of violating its right to free speech.
Parler previously has described its ownership and leadership as based in the United States, with conservative financier Rebekah Mercer and commentator Dan Bongino among its investors. It hired DDoS-Guard to protect it from cyberattacks after Amazon Web Services suspended Parler for having inadequate moderation policies, citing in a legal filing what it said was the site’s “unwillingness and inability” to remove content “inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”
In her letter, Maloney wrote that “The company was founded by John Matze shortly after he traveled in Russia with his wife, who is Russian and whose family reportedly has ties to the Russian government.”
“Concerns about the company’s connections to Russia have grown since the company re-emerged on a Russian hosting service, DDoS-Guard,” she continued.
Maloney also noted that DDos-Guard “has ties to the Russian government and hosts the websites of other far-right extremist groups, as well as the terrorist group Hamas,” though The Post reported that “DDoS-Guard stopped protecting the Hamas website in November, according to SITE Intelligence Group.”