John Matze, the CEO and co-founder of social media platform Parler, said in a LinkedIn post Wednesday that he’s been fired by the company’s board. Matze’s termination came just weeks after Parler, which had become a haven for racist and right-wing extremist content, was forced offline for allowing posts about the Capitol Hill insurrection. The storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
“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 told employees in a memo obtained 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.”
Matze wrote that he’s battled “constant resistance” during the past couple of months over his vision for the site and how it should be managed, including advocating for “a more effective approach to content moderation.”
Parler was booted offline in mid-January after Amazon Web Services cut its services, a move that followed decisions by Apple and Google to stop distributing the social network’s mobile apps. Amazon said it took the action because Parler wasn’t moderating posts from users advocating violence.
On Jan. 21,to force Amazon to reinstate its cloud hosting services. Amazon said in a previous court filing that there was no legal precedent for a court to order a company to host content that promoted violence.
The moves by tech giants to distance themselves from Parler came amid growing concerns that the service could be used to promote more violence in the wake of the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, who whipped them up at a rally. Talk of guns and violence was widespread in Parler discussions ahead of the march on the Capitol, which was organized to support the president’s baseless claims that the November election had been stolen from him.
Parler grew in popularity with right-wing users amid allegations that Twitter, Facebook and other social networks harbor anti-conservative bias. (The social networks have denied those charges.) From Jan. 6 to 10, Parler was downloaded 997,000 times across Apple’s App Store and Google Play, which was more than 10 times the downloads the app generated from Jan. 1 to 5, according to mobile app analytics company Sensor Tower.
Parler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.