John Matze, the boss of the conservative social network Parler, banned from the Internet since mid-January, announced that he was dismissed from his post on January 29, 2021 by his board of directors, controlled by Rebekah Mercer, in a message to his employees, published Wednesday by the American chain Fox Business. “I was not part of this decision,” John Matze said in this memo.
In the wake of the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill in Washington, stormed by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Parler was wiped off the web by major tech companies. Apple and Google have removed the app from their download platforms, arguing that the network had allowed numerous messages of incitement to violence to be broadcast without real moderation. Amazon then banned Parler from its servers, which amounts to taking it offline.
“For the past few months, I have fought, despite constant resistance, for my vision for the product and my deep belief in freedom of expression,” John Matze said in his letter. “I worked for endless hours and tried by all means to restore Parler but at this point the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.” Parler did not react to a request from Agence France Presse (AFP).
His links with Russia questioned
The network has grown in popularity since Facebook and other major platforms cracked down on extremist groups calling for violence.
A US federal judge on January 21 rejected a request from Parler which would have forced Amazon to host it again on its servers. The president of a parliamentary committee also asked the FBI to investigate the role played by the network in the invasion of the Capitol.
In her letter, Carolyn Maloney also asked the FBI director to review the company’s finances and its ties to Russia. Parler is in particular in business with the Russian company DDos-Guard, according to a statement addressed to AFP by the latter. The Russian group, however, did not specify the nature of these services.
The conservative social network has not worked since the intervention of Amazon, but it has partially “reappeared thanks to Russian hosting services”, underlined the commission’s statement in January.