Parler co-founder John Matze has sued the social media platform over his firing earlier this year.
The former Parler CEO accuses co-owner and GOP megadonor Rebekah Mercer of conspiring to dismiss him for “endeavoring to preserve Parler's commitment to free expression while combatting any misuse by violent extremists and domestic terrorists in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol.”
Fox News reported in early February that Matze was dismissed by Mercer, a benefactor to Breitbart News, and Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonSchiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump MORE, a campaign and White House adviser for former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE.
After the Jan. 6 riots, Parler was booted from several platforms including Apple and Google’s app stores, as well as Amazon’s web hosting service, over its failing to moderate extremist content on the platform.
The suit alleges that Mercer ignored Matze’s proposals for moderation policies that would have booted extremist content while preserving free speech. Instead, she and now-interim CEO Mark Meckler sought to turn Parler into a media outlet that would be the “tip of the spear” for conservatism.
The suit alleges says that this new goal led Mercer to force Matze out, and “steal his forty percent (40%) ownership interest” in Parler.
“This scheme is epitomized by oppression, fraud, and malice, for which Matze is entitled to punitive damages trebling (at a minimum) the millions that he is owed in compensatory damages,” the suit says.
The Hill has reached out to Parler for comment.
The suit comes several weeks after Parler dropped its federal suit against Amazon over its decision to de-platform the site. Parler is currently suing Amazon in a Washington state court for defamation and breach of contract.
Parler, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to Twitter, where Republicans sometimes complain of censorship, relaunched on Feb. 15 after being booted from Amazon Web Services.