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Parler's former CEO says he was fired for wanting to moderate right-wing extremism on the platform

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/4/2021 (Annabelle Williams)
a man standing in front of a monitor: Parler CEO John Matze Fox News © Provided by Business Insider Parler CEO John Matze Fox News
  • Parler's former CEO says he was fired because he wanted to quell right-wing extremism on the app. 
  • Extremists turned to the app in January after Facebook and Twitter cracked down on misinformation. 
  • A Parler executive said Matze's characterization of his firing was misleading, but provided no details. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

John Matze, the former chief executive of right-wing social media app Parler who was fired last month, says his ousting by the company's board was in response to his push for more strict moderation of extremism and violence on the platform.

He told NPR in an interview published Wednesday night that his termination came after disagreements with Parler board member and conservative mega-donor Rebekah Mercer over the app's content moderation policies. He wanted to up moderation efforts after far-right extremists used the app to organize the Capitol riots in January, he told the outlet, but was met with resistance by the Mercer-controlled board. 

Matze first revealed his departure to Fox Business Wednesday. In a memo obtained by Fox, Matze told employees that he was fired on January 29 and that he "did not participate in the decision." 

"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."

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Parler's hosting of far-right groups and a lack of content moderation relative to larger platforms like Facebook and Twitter made it a natural choice for fringe groups after their "stop the steal" organizing had been kicked off traditional social media platforms. 

Read moreParler has been knocked offline for not moderating threats. Screenshots show what Capitol riot supporters posted before, during, and after the unrest.

That accessibility to potentially violent extremists resulted in the effective shutdown of the app after the Capitol riots as Google and Apple removed Parler from their app stores. Amazon Web Services ceased service as well, resulting in the platform going offline for part of January. 

The site reappeared online on January 15 with a message from Matze. Now, Parler's website is hosted by Epik, Insider reported,  but isn't fully operational. Its homepage still advertises "technical difficulties." 

Parler's chief policy officer Amy Peikoff said in an emailed statement that Matze's comments about his termination were not true: "Mr. Matze's characterizations of the events and circumstances surrounding his termination from the Parler CEO position have been inaccurate and misleading," she said, without providing any details into which statements were false or in which way they were misleading. 

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