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Capitol riots: Parler boss says he has been fired by the board

Silhouette of hand holding phone in front of Parler logo.

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The board of self-styled “free speech-driven” social media platform Parler has fired its chief executive John Matze, he said on Wednesday.

Parler was favoured by many US conservatives who objected to content rules on Facebook and Twitter.

It has far fewer users than either of its rivals, but grew rapidly the wake of the US presidential election.

The platform has been largely offline since the 6 January riot in Washington DC.

“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,” Mr Matze said in a memo sent to Parler staff, originally reported by Fox News.

Mr Matze didn’t give a reason for his termination.

“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,” the memo said.

Mr Matze appeared to confirm the story, posting it to his LinkedIn account, saying “this is not a goodbye. Just a so long for now”.

Still offline

Parler first launched in 2018, but its user base surged after the 2020 US election, when it was the most downloaded app in the US.

But Parler’s user base of 12 million is just a fraction of its rival Twitter, which has more than 300 million.

The tech companies that provided the infrastructure it needed to operate dropped Parler after supporters of the former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building in Washington.

Amazon’s cloud-hosting division as well as Google and Apple’s app stores said they removed Parler because it was unable or unwilling to police content that encouraged or incited violence against others.

Parler is suing Amazon Web Services (AWS), accusing it of breaking anti-trust laws by removing it.

The platform said AWS’s decision to terminate Parler’s account was motivated by “political animus” and was deigned to reduce competition among microblogging services, thereby helping its competitor Twitter.

Although Parler hasn’t released a full list of its financial supporters, heiress and Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer and conservative commentator Dan Bongino are among the companies known backers.

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BBC News – Technology

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