John Matze, the CEO of Parler has been fired by the social media company’s board. Since that happened Matze has given interviews where he has changed his story from one night to the next day. At first, he said that he was the free speech advocate and that he was fighting the other three owners, which according to Dan Bonino, one of the other Parler owners, is a lie. The next day, Thursday of this week, Matze did an interview with the New York Times where he changed his story and said he was all for cracking down on Qanan types, terrorists, and hate speech. Again, Bongino says that was a lie.
Full Disclosure: I have never missed an episode of Dan Bongino’s podcast. I believe he is the most informed person in podcasts for conservative political issues. If I sound biased it’s because I am, and after listening to him for so long I know I can trust what he says is truthful. Take that for what it’s worth, but it’s how I feel.
Matze announced his departure in a memo to colleagues saying that the decision to leave the social media company, which was favored by supporters of former President Donald Trump, was out of his hands.
“On January 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision,” he said. “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.”
Amazon removed Parler from its cloud-hosting services claiming that the platform was not effectively moderating and removing violent material, including “egregious content” dealing with the Capitol riot that happened on January 6.
Matze said in the memo that he has “met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed” over the past few months.
If you watch to Dan Bongino’s podcast about this issue you get a completely different story.
“For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation,” Matze wrote. “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.”
Bongino has disputed Matze’s version of the story releasing a six-minute rebuke quickly after news broke of the CEO’s firing, claiming, “The story you’re hearing, unfortunately, is not correct.”
“This is an outrageous attack against people who have done nothing but work day and night to get this site back up and to fight back against these cancel culture goons,” he said. “To get knee-capped like this by someone we trusted is a disgrace. He is no white knight in this story.”
Bongino pointed out that the free speech vision of the company was not Matze’s but was of the other three owners. He said that Matze didn’t share the vision and he most certainly was not committed to product stability. He said Matze made “some really bad decisions” behind the scenes. For example, Bongino said in his podcast from Thursday that Matze was warned over and over again about not doing business with leftist companies that are not for free speech, companies like Amazon which canceled Parler’s access to their web services. Parler fought back and sued Amazon in court and the judge ruled in Amazon’s favor.
A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told the Washington Examiner at the time that this “was not a case about free speech” and accused Parler of “consistently” violating its terms of service by allowing violent content to be published on the platform.
The problem here is the definition of free speech. Advocates of Constitutional free speech understand that most speech is free under the First Amendment, while some speech is not free. Examples would be threatening someone or lying about someone and the lies harm them somehow. Parler was engaging in content moderation to get rid of speech that was considered illegal, but they were still a free speech entity. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others consider speech that politically offends the Left or speech that exposes the Left as misleading and not free speech.
Parler made the argument that Amazon’s refusal of service was violating anti-trust laws, was unfair and politically biased since Twitter still features violent content and Amazon did not remove them from their platform.
Bongino has said that the reason it is taking Parler longer to get back up and running than expected is that the owners are serious about remaining a free speech company and it will take longer to find services that will allow a free speech company. This is what we’ve come to. In 2021 it is difficult to find tech companies that believe in free speech.