Eating Their Own: Ex CEO, John Matze, Alleges Conspiracy – Sues Parler

In another twist in the ongoing Parler saga, John Matze, fired CEO of Parler, is suing Parler. He alleges there was a conspiracy against him to rob him of millions.

He helped to run Parler, but now, John Matze, the now fired CEO who also co-founded the platform, is filing a lawsuit against the very platform that he helmed. Parler, if you recall, is a right wing echo chamber that bills itself as a “free speech” platform. Obviously, the platform is anything but that given that they are known to ban people not aligned with right wing extremists, but that really is a small problem compared to the other problems associated with the network.

Following the January 6th terrorist attack, Amazon cut off Parler from their AWS services because Parler would not moderate against right wing terrorist content. Amazon did give Parler time to comply with their request to do the right thing, but when, the eyes of Amazon, Parler failed to comply, the services were cut off. In turn, that pulled Parler offline. In response, Parler sued Amazon for their actions. That initial lawsuit was pulled after a judge ruled that Amazon is not obligated to immediately restore their services to the platform.

Obviously, Russia has a keen interest in bolstering the far right given how much damage it was able to unleash on the country, so anything to keep the attack up is good news on their side. So, it came as little surprise that Parler did find temporary sanctuary in Russia via Russian DDOS protection service, DDOS-Guard. It became temporary because there were allegations that the service had obtained IP addresses they weren’t necessarily entitled to. Coincidentally, the IP address Parler temporarily obtained was also one of those IP addresses that ultimately became vulnerable.

In the midst of all of this, the FBI was asked to investigate Parler for the platforms connections with the January 6th terrorist attack. All of this happened while Matze was CEO at the time.

At some point, Matze was then fired from his position. Shortly after, the platform came back online using “independent technology“. After finally getting the platform back online, Parler then sued Amazon again using what many consider to be pretty flimsy accusations against the company. The strongest argument that we are aware of is that Amazon is a monopolistic corporation and is using its anti-competitive status to take down Parler. It’s not a very strong argument, but there aren’t that many choices for services that offer the same kind of services as Amazon. Further, where that allegation leads is kind of uncertain.

Parler then, in turn, tried to convince Apple to let their app back into the Apple app store, but Apple pretty much told Parler to pound sand. So, although Parler did make some ground in restoring their platform to service right wing extremism, they are still seeing a large number of road blocks.

Now, Parler is facing a whole new threat and the threat is coming from within. Matze is filing a lawsuit against Parler saying that there was an orchestrated theft against him. That theft left him out of millions after he was fired. From NPR:

The co-founder and former CEO of Parler has sued the conservative social media platform over his firing this year. John Matze claims Parler’s leadership took away his 40% stake in the company in an “arrogant theft,” intimidated and bullied him in an ouster he says was illegal and left him owed millions of dollars.

Matze lost his job after quarreling with Rebekah Mercer, the conservative megadonor who bankrolled Parler. He says Mercer resisted developing policies to crack down on posts about the QAnon conspiracy theory, neo-Nazism, violence and domestic terrorism. Mercer is named as a defendant in the suit.

“Parler was now being hijacked to advance the personal political interests and personal advantages of the Defendants rather than serve as the free expression platform as originally conceived,” Matze’s suit says.

The suit, which claims breach of contract and defamation, also names Jeffrey Wernick, Parler’s chief operating officer; interim CEO Mark Meckler; and right-wing personality Dan Bongino as defendants. None has yet responded to the lawsuit’s allegations.

NPR previously reported that Matze was stripped of his entire stake in Parler when he was abruptly terminated. But his lawsuit, filed late Monday, adds new details to the fight over a social network favored by many Trump supporters.

After the Jan. 6 attack, Mercer “sought to co-opt [Parler] as a symbol or as the ‘tip of the spear’ for her brand of conservatism, and plotted to force Matze out,” the suit alleges.

This is ultimately one of those stories where it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone involved. The banning of non-right leaning voices easily happened while Matze was still at the helm. Even before the January 6th terrorist attack, the platform was actively courting right wing extremism. right wing officials (namely the Trump camp) tried to use Parler to politically hurt Twitter after it finally, though reluctantly, decided that clamping down on extremist material was necessary regardless of political affiliation.

As such, it’s difficult to see how Matze can suddenly separate himself from the monster he helped create and say that he wanted to fix the problems now that he is out. It might have been more convincing if, shortly after the January 6th attack, he actually resigned saying that, although he wanted to promote free speech, the actions that were taken by users during the attack overstepped the boundaries. At that point, then he could theoretically make a good case that the Parler today wasn’t what he had envisioned when he tried to create a so-called “free speech” platform.

That obviously didn’t happen.

Now, we are witnessing fractures in the right wing movement even forming within the extreme right element. Because of these fractures, even the very infrastructure that helped bolster the movement is being threatened by some of the very people who helped build it.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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