Parler CEO: ‘Not against the law’ to express ‘crazy’ opinions

The CEO of conservative-boosted social media app Parler on Tuesday responded to criticism that the platform could spread extreme opinions and misinformation, saying that “people say crazy things all the time” and “it’s not against the law to have those opinions.” 

While appearing on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” John Matze responded to questions from Carlson on why “corporate media is so afraid of what you’re doing.” 

“I always ask them, ‘What do you think of the First Amendment? Do you believe that we should have somebody in New York, let’s say in the middle of Times Square, telling you what you can and cannot say?’” Matze said. “Because that’s what these companies are doing.” 

“I don’t know why they’re so afraid. Maybe it’s because they don’t like that people are getting power again,” he continued. 

Matze later added that “when you go out in public, people say crazy things all the time. Everybody has opinions, and some of them might not be the norm.”

“But it’s not against the law to have those opinions,” he added. “It’s not against the law to express yourself. 

“And if you like one political candidate or another, or you believe or don’t believe in climate change,” he continued, “you shouldn’t be taken offline because of it.”

Parler has gained particular popularity since Election Day, with some Republicans promoting claims of anti-conservative bias on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which have recently taken more strict measures to limit misinformation surrounding the 2020 elections. 

Ahead of the elections, Parler released a memo detailing plans to “host unfiltered content during the 2020 election season.”

“Trust in and respect for election results requires transparency. The People deserve to consider all sides and sources, so that they may exercise and act upon their own best judgment,” the company wrote in its memo. “No one should be banned or censored for his or her views, whether by government or by Silicon Valley do-gooders.”

Experts have raised concerns that Parler’s commitment to leaving it up to users to regulate content on its platform could lead to a feeding ground for conspiracy theories and unsupported claims about elections, public officials and political issues. 

“Anytime you take a laissez faire approach to moderation — you say ‘anything goes’ right up until actual threats of real world violence — that creates a huge space for some really problematic things to happen,” Bret Schafer, a fellow focusing on disinformation at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, told The Hill last week

Some conservatives, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), have urged their Twitter followers to join Parler. While Cruz still maintains 4.1 million followers on Twitter, he already has approximately 3.6 million Parler followers.

The platform has gained support as President Trump has repeated disputed claims that the presidential election was rigged in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, citing unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. 

Election experts, local election officials and courts have denied these claims, and Republicans announced this week that they would be dropping federal election lawsuits in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Tags 2020 election anti-conservative bias Donald Trump Facebook Fox News Georgia Joe Biden Michigan misinformation campaigns online misinformation Parler Pennsylvania Ted Cruz Tucker Carlson Twitter Wisconsin

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