Parler, the social media network for right-wingers who had already successfully alienated their family and friends on other sites, has canned its CEO John Matze.
Under Matze’s tenure, Parler surged in membership courtesy of conservatives obsessed with the idea a shadow cabal of liberal tech elites wants to censor them on other sites and under the impression opening a new account somewhere else was a form of protest. After the barely-moderated site was flooded with death threats against Democratic legislators and implicated as one of the main venues where the January 6 Capitol building insurrectionists organized and livestreamed their failed coup attempt, Parler’s app was banned from Apple and Google’s app stores, and Amazon yanked its web hosting. Its lawsuit against Amazon is all but being laughed out of court and the House Judiciary Committee has asked for the FBI to investigate it. The site has yet to return in any form other than a pathetic “Technical Difficulties” page which includes letters of support from people like Sean Hannity. Needless to say, things are going well over there.
Matze, now the ex-CEO of Parler, claimed in a letter obtained by Fox Business that the company’s board is “controlled” by conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer (one of Parler’s major financial backers) and that he “did not participate in this decision.” He added that the site was merely days from returning online at the time he was fired.
“I understand that those who now control the company have made some communications to employees and other third parties that have unfortunately created confusion and prompted me to make this public statement,” Matze wrote. He added that he had encountered “constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech, and my view of how the Parler site should be managed,” such as “product stability” and increased content moderation.
Though Parler marketed itself as a free-speech site, it always had rules—highly selective ones against things like nudity and swears that conveniently seemed to be enforced mainly against left-wing trolls. It had a bizarre and opaque moderation system in place where reported posts were vetted by a jury of other members (not exactly a brain trust). Matze told the New York Times earlier this month that he had informed Mercer the site would never get back online if they didn’t put in new tools to ban domestic terrorists, white supremacists, and QAnon conspiracy theorists; he said he got “dead silence as a response.”
One of Parler’s major investors, thrice-failed political candidate and former NRATV host Dan Bongino, more or less confirmed that the site will never ban those people.
Bongino claimed that Parler could have been back up in a week if the board had simply “bent the knee and followed the ridiculous Apple edicts to become a heavy moderation site to the left of Twitter. That’s not what we’re gonna do.”
“We don’t want garbage on our site either and we took the proper steps to do that, but we are a free speech site and will remain as such,” Bongino added. “And that’s why it’s taken so long to get back up.”
Hopefully, it takes a lot, lot longer.