John Matze, the managing director of Contested social media platform Parlersaid on Wednesday that he was fired last week.
Matze, 27, who co-founded the website in 2018, said in an interview that he hadn’t received an explanation for the decision. He said he believed he was fired because of a disagreement with prominent Republican political donor Rebekah Mercer, who supports Parler financially.
Ms. Mercer, he said, did not appear to impose any restrictions on what users could say to Parler, which has described itself as a “free speech” social network. While this open philosophy popularized the site with conservatives, it also created problems.
Last month, Parler has been removed Booted from Apple’s and Google’s app stores and from Amazon’s web hosting platform for not being strict enough on monitoring and removing posts that attempted to incite violence or crime.
“It’s always been about free speech and that everyone is welcome. I’ve never dealt with conservative political activism, ”said Matze. But he said he told Ms. Mercer Parler should consider preventing domestic terrorists, white supremacists and members of QAnon, the unfounded pro-Trump conspiracy theory, from posting on the platform.
“I got total silence in response, and I took that dead silence as a disagreement,” he said.
Millions of people flocked to Parler, a platform similar to Twitter after the November presidential election, when mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter became more aggressive against hate speech and misinformation. Last month after a crowd of former President Donald J. Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, in part at the urging of Mr. Trump, Twitter and Facebook Stop him from their websites completely.
But Parler was unable to take advantage of the interest of the right-wing users for long. After Apple, Google, and Amazon refused to work with the company, the website went dark on Jan. 11 due to Parler not monitoring the platform.
Mr. Matze had been trying to find a way to get Parler back online. The enterprise sued Amazon last month for antitrust violations. Parler also sought help from a Russian internet security company, DDoS Guard to keep a simple webpage secure even though users couldn’t post.
Neither a Parler spokeswoman nor Ms. Mercer immediately responded to requests for comment.