Former CEO and co-founder of conservative social network Parler John Matze was ousted by the company board in a recent reorganization and has sued the company for what he calls “outlandish and arrogant theft” on the part of the board members.

Matze was removed from his position on January 29 by a motion backed by other co-founder Rebekah Mercer, whose father Robert Mercer is one of the largest venture capitalist investors in Parler.

In his filed lawsuit, Matze says that he “was abruptly ousted in violation of the law and public policy for endeavoring to preserve Parler’s commitment to free expression while combating any misuse by violent extremists and domestic terrorists in the wake of the January 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol. Rather than protect Parler, its other owner, Rebekah Mercer, sought to co-opt it as a symbol or as the ‘tip of the spear’ for her brand of conservatism, and plotted to force Matze out as CEO, manager, and member, and steal his forty percent (40%) ownership interest.”

Matze describes a board meeting where he realized the company’s vision was diverging from his own. In the lawsuit, Matze says he proposed “that Parler bar any identifiable extremist groups like QAnon and neo Nazis from Parler’s platform, i.e., inciting violence and acts of domestic terrorism. Matze’s proposal was met with dead silence, which he took to be a rejection of his proposal.”

Parler was recently backed by DDos-Guard, a Russian-owned company specializing in web security and hosting. DDos-Guard has previously hosted other far-right websites and sites supporting the Russian government.

While the Parler app is currently accessible, it is banned from both the Apple and Google Play Stores meaning there is no easy way to download the app for most mobile devices. The platform went dark on January 7, but resumed service on January 18 without any of its Twitter-like functionality.

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