This may come as a surprise, or maybe it won’t, according to a Motherboard analysis of GPS locations scraped by the right-wing social media platform Parler, some of its users posted from military bases and facilities.
According to Vice, this doesn’t necessarily mean that military members are Parler users since civilians work on the base. There are also family members of active service members on the base as well.
Motherboard has not revealed the identities of the users or the content of their postings. But the news comes as prosecutors investigate and press charges against military members that engaged in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Amazon cut off the server to the platform after the attempted coup, which left five dead, but before that happened, archivists were able to gather a significant amount of public Parler data, including pictures, videos, and usernames.
“I hope that it can be used to hold people accountable and to prevent more death,” donk_enby, the hacker who led the archiving project, told Motherboard on Monday.
According to Motherboard, hobbyists and computer scientists reviewed the data, and one technologist was able to filter out GPS locations and some associated metadata before giving it to Motherboard.
The company plotted the Parler users’ coordinates onto a map that tracked postings back to military bases and facilities.
Even though Parler is widely used for vitriolic, racist, or directly inciting violent content, all users aren’t considered far-right. The revelation also doesn’t mean that military members were involved in the riot, but it does indicate ties somewhere between some of the users and military members.
Furthermore, GPS coordinates aren’t always reliable.
“The dataset depicts the authoritative boundaries of the most commonly known Department of Defense (DoD) sites, installations, ranges, and training areas in the United States and Territories,” the data description reads. “This dataset was created from source data provided by the four Military Service Component headquarters and was compiled by the Defense Installation Spatial Data Infrastructure (DISDI) Program within the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, Business Enterprise Integration Directorate,” it continues.
“For inventory purposes, installations are comprised of sites, where a site is defined as a specific geographic location of federally owned or managed land and is assigned to military installation. DoD installations are commonly referred to as a base, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility for any ship, or other activity under the jurisdiction, custody, control of the DoD.”
The Army is taking extra security screenings to make sure it selects the appropriate National Guard troops to be deployed to the inauguration, considering some members may have sympathy for Capitol rioters, the Army Times reported. There are already many heavy-armed troops protecting the nation’s Capitol building.
Congress has demanded a probe to find to what extent white supremacist ideology has penetrated military ranks.
“It’s terrifying and revolting that members of the military and veterans could be involved in an insurrection in an attempt to violently overthrow the government,” Senator Richard Blumethal said in a statement on Thursday. White supremacy has become more popular with troops in the past year, according to a senior Defense official told reporters.
Vice previously reported Neo-Nazis are trying to recruit active service members and have called for assassinations.
The Associated Press discovered at least 21 active or former military or law enforcement members at or near the Capitol during last week’s attempted coup.
Earlier this week, authorities apprehended Jacob Fracker, an infantryman with the Virginia National Guard, and Thomas Robertson, an Army veteran.
Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo turned officer Tam Pham’s name into the FBI after social media posts showed Pham inside the Capitol during the January 6 riots. Pham has since resigned.
“The Army is committed to working closely with the F.B.I. as they identify people who participated in the violent attack on the Capitol to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army. Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law. For any further questions, please contact the DOJ,” a U.S. Army spokesperson told Motherboard.