The ‘free/hate speech’ social network Parler spiked in popularity late last year before losing its ride on Amazon Web Services hosting and listings in significant app stores following the January 6th riots that attacked the US Capitol Building. Now, according to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, its CEO John Matze is out, informing staffers in a memo that board members have terminated him at the behest of major Republican political donor Rebekah Mercer.
Mr. Matze, 27, who co-founded the site in 2018, said he had not explained the decision in an interview. He said he believed he was fired because of a difference in opinion with the prominent Republican political donor Rebekah Mercer, who supports Parler financially.
Ms. Mercer, he said, did not seem to want to impose any restrictions on what users could say on Parler, which has billed itself as a “free speech” social network. While that open philosophy made the site popular with conservatives, it also led to trouble.
The app had been a preferred outlet for Donald Trump supporters, who saw it as an alternative to facing possible moderation on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It remains offline without any update of when it may resume service or a publicly-announced plan to restore its app on iOS or Android. In his memo on Friday, Matze said, “I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running, but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.” Presumably, some other z-tier social site will soon require a leader to fail to maintain it at a level that’s acceptable to any commercial partners or even its financial backers.
“I’ve always been about free speech and everyone being welcome. I’ve never been about conservative political activism,” Mr. Matze said. But he said he had told Ms. Mercer that Parler needed to consider restricting domestic terrorists, white supremacists, and members of QAnon, the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory, from posting on the platform.