John Matze, the former chief executive of the controversial social network favoured by America’s far-right, Parler, has unleashed on the company after he was fired last Friday.
In a memo sent to staffers and obtained by Fox News, Mr Matze wrote that the board, “controlled” by conservative political donor Rebekah Mercer, “decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler”.
“I did not participate in this decision,” he added.
“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.”
Mr Matze claimed that his original vision for the social media platform had been met with “constant resistance”, especially following the January 6 Capitol siege, when the likes of Google and Apple alleged Parler had failed to adequately police the platform.
“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.
“I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.”
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Dan Bongino, a conservative podcast host who has invested in the platform, said Mr Matze bore responsibility for “really bad decisions” that led to the app being taken offline and that it was “time to correct the record”.
“The story you’re hearing is unfortunately not correct,” Mr Bongino said in a video on Wednesday, adding that he was going to set the record straight on Mr Matze’s termination “so this fake news doesn’t fester”.
He said that Mr Matze’s claims of being an advocate for free speech were “not accurate”.
“John decided to make this public, not us,” Mr Bongino said.
“We were handling it like gentlemen. We were the ones in fact fighting to get Parler back up. It was some really bad decisions made my people on the inside. And listen, this isn’t us airing dirty laundry, this is protecting a company that is absolutely committed to free speech.”
He then claimed that Mr Matze’s so-called “free speech vision” was actually “ours, the other owners of the company”.
“If he wants to get into a battle of narratives over here, he is going to lose because there’s this thing getting in the way of this story he’s telling and it’s called the truth,” Mr Bongino continued.
“I’m really p*ssed off right now because that’s absolutely not what happened. The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours.”
Mr Bongino said Parler could’ve been back up “in a week” if they had just “bent the knee” and done what Apple and Google called for.
“(John) is not telling the truth … wait for the real story to come out some day,” he added.
“Is he really sure he wants to get into this? This is an outrageous attack on people who’ve done nothing but work day and night to get this site back up and to fight back against these cancel culture goons. And to get kneecapped like this by someone we trusted is a disgrace.”
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Describing himself a libertarian, Mr Matze founded Parler as an alternative to mainstream platforms, but began courting right-leaning users as supporters of former president Donald Trump moved there and prominent Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz, promoted the app.
After the Capitol riots, however, Amazon Web Services cut Parler off, declaring the platform was both unwilling and unable to remove “content that threatens the public safety, such as inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens”.
A relaunch – expected for early this month – has been delayed.