MAGA world tried to create its own social-media platform once. A place for Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon shamans, and All Lives Matterers to roam free and express themselves without moderation. It was called Parler (“to speak” in French, a language an estimated zero percent of its users knew) and was founded by an unlikely couple named Alina Mukhutdinova and John Matze. Both remained relatively anonymous until recently, when the whole thing fell apart.
It started in May of 2016, when the twentysomething Alina Mukhutdinova left her hometown in Kazan, Russia, for a two-week road trip in the U.S. No one knows why she decided to go or the stops she took along the way. What is known is that Alina was a tech fan and liked to attend conferences such as C.E.S., the Consumer Technology Association’s annual Las Vegas trade show widely considered to be the most influential tech event in the world. This may explain how she ended up in Vegas, crossing paths with software engineer and future husband John Matze.