After his social media platform was largely wiped off the web, Parler CEO and co-founder John Matze says he has been fired by his company’s own board of directors, according to a memo obtained by Fox News and The Wall Street Journal and a text message confirmation he sent to Reuters. His LinkedIn page shows an employment end date of January 2021.
Parler, of course, is the social network that found itself wholly deplatformed after its role in the January 6th riots at the US Capitol. Both Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores after being unsatisfied with the company’s attempts to moderate the spread of calls for violence. Amazon decided to terminate the company’s AWS website hosting completely. And though Parler did try to sue Amazon, a judge denied a demand for its website hosting to be reinstated.
On January 10th, Matze told Fox News that all the company’s vendors — and even its lawyers — had abandoned him.
Today, Matze claims he was terminated by a board led by Rebekah Mercer (of the Mercer family, who are prominent conservative donors), and suggested he was fired due to his “strong belief in free speech” and his product vision, including “what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation.”
It might also have something to do with the company getting run into the ground under his watch. In addition to the difficulties of simply staying up on the internet, it came to light that Parler may have had some privacy issues. Researchers were able to scrape a tremendous amount of users’ content, including their geotagged locations and videos, which were later converted into interactive maps of the Capitol building attack that proved many Parler users were involved.
The House Oversight Committee even called for an FBI investigation into Parler’s involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
Parler does currently have a website again thanks to the hosting services of Epik, a company that also supports controversial websites like Gab and 8chan, and Parler suggested on January 17th that it hoped “to welcome all of you back soon.” But that was over two weeks ago, and the website is mostly a timeline of grievances about how the company has been treated unjustly. Matze hasn’t posted there since Monday, January 26th. His last post was a Bernie Sanders meme with the text “I wish that John guy would hurry up already.”
Apparently, Rebekah Mercer agreed with that sentiment.
Parler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update, February 4th: Parler confirmed to The Verge that Matze had been fired.