John Matze, chief executive of Parler, has been asked to step down, weeks after the conservative social media platform went dark.
Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores after the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Amazon Web Services subsequently declined to host the the platform, citing ongoing, violent posts that violated its terms of service. Parler slapped AWS with an antitrust lawsuit but a judge denied its request for a temporary restraining order.
Matze co-founded Henderson, Nevada-based Parler in 2018 with Jared Thomson and conservative political donor Rebekah Mercer. It became a preferred platform for right wing conspiracists and Trump supporters, including those who were pushed off Twitter. His ouster comes as former President Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate next week for inciting insurrection.
“On January 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision,” Matze wrote in a memo to staff first reported by Fox News. “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.”
“Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed,” he said in a statement. “For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation,” he told the outlet.
Amazon minced no words in its filing arguing against a stay, describing at length “Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”
Parler had about 15 million users. It had been talking with several other companies about hosting its platform but it’s not clear how those conversations ended up. Its users have turned increasing to encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.
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