The CEO of Parler, the social media company that bills itself as a haven for free speech, was fired over a dispute that has since turned into a public feud with company co-owner Dan Bongino.
In a memo to staff that was published Wednesday, John Matze claimed that he was forced out for trying to stay true to the company’s vision, Fox Business reported, prompting a pointed reply from Bongino to “correct the record.”
Matze forced out
In recent weeks, Matze had been making the rounds of cable news to advocate for Parler since Amazon pulled the plug on its web hosting. Apple and Google also banned the embattled company from their app stores, according to reports.
The shutdown ensued after a January riot at the Capitol, which resulted in a wave of censorship that saw Parler gain many users after then-President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter.
In a memo that was published by Fox Business, Matze said that he was let go on Jan. 29 by the company’s board, which he said is controlled by conservative Rebekah Mercer, after facing “constant resistance” over his plans for 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 wrote, as Fox Business reported.
“For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation,” Matze added.
Correcting the record
The claims angered Bongino, who accused Matze of pushing “fake news” and falsely taking credit for Parler’s free speech philosophy in a Facebook video, as Fox News reported.
“It’s time to correct the record… This free speech vision? That was ours, the other owners of the company,” Bongino said. “I’m really pissed off right now,” he added, according to Fox News. “The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours.”
Matze told the Wall Street Journal that he was looking at imposing content controls to get Parler back on Apple and Google.
Bongino alluded to those plans in his video, saying that Parler could have been back up in a “week” if the company was only willing to “[bend] the knee” and make concessions to Big Tech.
“We could have been up in a week if we just would have bent the knee,” Bongino said. “The vision of the company as a free-speech site and a stable product, immune and hardened to cancel culture, was ours.”