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Website features faces from Parler's Capitol riot videos

The goal of Faces of the Riots is to aid the FBI in its investigation of the deadly siege, one of the site's creators says.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read

Faces of the Riots includes links to the videos scraped from Parler.

Faces of the Riots/Screen shot by Steven Musil

A website designed to help identify individuals at the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots quietly went live earlier this month, displaying thousands of facial images of people who allegedly participated in the deadly siege.

The website, called Faces of the Riot, includes nearly 6,000 images captured from videos uploaded to Parler, a social media site popular with conservatives. Parler, which became a haven for racist and extremist content, was recently forced offline for allowing posts about the insurrection that led to the deaths of five people.

The images come from an archive of Parler that hackers created by scraping posts and location data for images and videos before it was taken offline. The site's creators used open-source facial detection software to extract images from 827 videos that were posted on Parler from inside and outside the US Capitol building.

The intent is to help the FBI identify who participated in the siege, one of the site's two creators told CNET.

"Before this, everyone being held accountable was a famous politician" or notable figure, one of the site's creators, who asked not to be identified, told CNET through Twitter direct messages. "But there were thousands of other people there who also should be held accountable for this."

A Twitter account for the website started tweeting on Jan. 15, and the site has been archived since Jan. 16 

The violence on Capitol Hill began when lawmakers assembled to count Electoral College votes and confirm Joe Biden's victory. It followed a rally held by now-former President Donald Trump, who encouraged his supporters to march on the building. Lawmakers had to be evacuated, and National Guard troops were deployed to restore order.

The Faces of the Riot site, which was earlier reported by Wired, is minimalist and is laid out in a grid of images that often resemble mugshots. Each image is linked to the original video that shows what the individual was doing that day at the Capitol. The site discourages users from conducting their own investigations and encourages them to share tips with the FBI.

"We aim to make it easier to find tips to submit to the FBI, not for an average user to identify people, as that can get dangerous," said one of the site's creators, who described himself as computer science student in Virginia.

The site's creators invite users to report any image that might be in the database by mistake. The site's creators will delete errant images.

"We've spent about five hours manually removing pictures of children and non-rioters prior to publishing the database," the site's creator said, adding that they haven't had any contact with the FBI, though they have submitted a few tips of their own.

The FBI declined to comment.