Dan Larimer Reveals New Project to Combat “Tyranny” of Twitter

Key Takeaways

  • Larimer has long had an interest in social media platforms, although previous attempts like Voice were highly centralized.
  • He encouraged people to abandon Twitter after Donald Trump was banned for inciting a violent riot in the U.S. capitol.
  • The Clarion project was announced the day after far-right platform Gab was hacked.

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After quitting his role as EOS CTO in January, Dan Larimer has announced a new censorship-resistance social media project called Clarion.

Larimer Takes on “Big Tech”

Larimer made a GitHub post explaining the concept of his new project. He described a censorship-resistant “friend to friend” network that mirrors the “performance and reliability of a centralized service with the freedom and independence of a decentralized service.”

Larimer claimed that his project would free friends and family from the so-called “tyranny of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, and Google.”

The project drew inspiration from RetroShare, Hive (formerly Steemit), and Voice, with Larimer saying RetroShare is much closer to the desired level of centralization. Clarion will facilitate email, video chats, and other forms of message propagation.

Larimer wrapped up his announcement by claiming “Big Tech” has locked its users into its services and no longer produces tools to empower people.

Far-Right Politics on the Blockchain

In January, Larimer indicated that his interest in censorship-resistant technology was due in part to Twitter banning former U.S. President Donald Trump from Twitter.

Trump was banned on January 08 for inciting violence at the U.S. capitol, with Larimer stating that it was “time to abandon Twitter” the next day.

Larimer also appeared to encourage users to download the Parler social media app from Apple before it was removed. Parler gained notoriety as a hub for white supremacists and far-right extremists marketed as a censorship-resistant social media platform.

Parler was banned from Amazon and other platforms, as Larimer seems to reference in his cryptic GitHub post.

However, Parler suffered a major security breach when hacktivist @donk_enby scraped the platform and extracted publicly available metadata revealing extensive information on Parler users, including identities and metadata.

The information could potentially identify many of the people who were involved in the storming of the U.S. capital.

Far-right social media platform Gab was also breached recently, including Donald Trump’s personal account. With Gab and Parler both out of action, the far-right social media presence is limited to more centralized platforms. Larimer announced his project the day after the Gab hack was made public.

Disclosure: The author held Bitcoin at the time of writing.

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Far-Right Website Gab Suffers Data Breach in Major Hack

Key Takeaways

  • Gab has reportedly been hacked by Distributed Denial of Secrets.
  • Distributed Denial of Secrets says more than 70GB of data has been breached, including Donald Trump’s account on the site.
  • Popular among Bitcoin supporters, the right-wing website was briefly closed following a crypto-related scam in February.

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More problems for Gab: the alternative social media platform appears to have been hacked over the weekend. 

Gab Hit by Hack 

Gab, a self-styled “Free Speech Social Network” whose user base includes far-right supporters and Bitcoin enthusiasts alike, has reportedly been hacked. 

Wired covered the attack Sunday after contacting the hacktivist group Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets). The newest section on the group’s website is titled “GabLeaks,” and includes a link to download 70GB worth of data. DDoSecrets says “it includes every private post and many private messages.”

The full description of the files reads: 

“70 GB of Gab public posts, private posts, user profiles, hashed passwords for users, DMs, and plaintext passwords for groups in SQL format, along with over 70,000 messages in more than 19,000 chats with over 15,000 users in plaintext format.”

DDoSecrets notes that the dataset has currently only been made available to journalists and researchers. The group’s co-founder, Emma Best, told WIRED that the data includes “pretty much everything” on Gab. 

The data was allegedly pulled by a hacker who identifies as JaXpArO (they/them) & My Little Anonymous Revival Project. 

Gab CEO Andrew Torba wrote a blog post about an “Alleged Data Breach” on Friday, in which he described an “alleged” attack concerning public and private posts, user profiles, passwords, and private messages. He said that the site had recently suffered a vulnerability and would also be carrying out an audit. 

Torba also posted a since-deleted tweet on Sunday, using a transphobic slur to describe an attack on the site. He confirmed that both his and Donald Trump’s accounts had been “compromised.”

Best reposted a link to the post on the Internet Archive. 

Gab’s Rocky Year

The DDoSecrets attack is not the only issue Gab has faced recently. In February, the site was briefly taken offline following a Bitcoin-related scam. Some accounts had begun posting Bitcoin wallet addresses in an attempt to extort crypto funds from Gab users. 

Gab has seen an influx of new users in 2021 after Twitter banned Donald Trump and other far-right supporters in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot. Many of them turned to Parler, another site that operates in a similar format to Gab, though Amazon Web Service later pulled support for the site. 

Trump supporters, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and white nationalists flocked to Gab as a result of the deplatforming. Gab is favored by some Bitcoiners, possibly because of the currency’s association with Libertarianism. 

Several other major hacktivist breaches have come to light recently, many of them involving DDoSecrets.

Last month, the group released over 330GB worth of data related to companies in Myanmar following the country’s military coup. DDoSecrets also leaked police data stolen by an Anonymous hacker over the summer. The “BlueLeaks” incident was widely covered in the press and led to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security categorizing DDoSecrets as “a criminal hacker group.” 

Crypto Briefing has reached out to Emma Best to request access to the leaked data, pending a response. 

Disclosure: The author did not hold cryptocurrencies mentioned in this article at the time of writing. 

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