The fired chief executive of Parler has counterpunched. John Matze has sued the right-wing social media platform he co-founded, accusing the company of an "arrogant theft" in seizing his share and bullying him to drive him out. Rebekah Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor who backed the site, is named in the suit along with company officials, NPR reports. Matze says in the filing that Parler was "being hijacked to advance the personal political interests and personal advantages of the Defendants rather than serve as the free expression platform as originally conceived." Matze and Mercer broke after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol; the rioters had used Parler to communicate about the insurrection. In the aftermath, the suit says, Mercer "sought to co-opt [Parler] as a symbol or as the 'tip of the spear' for her brand of conservatism, and plotted to force Matze out."
Parler's board fired Matze, who started the site with a college friend, at the end of January. The site went down after the riot, when Amazon Web Services decided to no longer host it. Parler is up now but with limited functionality, and old posts are no longer visible. Matze says he and Mercer argued disagreed about making changes, with Mercer not wanting to take steps against QAnon, neo-Nazism, or domestic terrorism. He says she brought new people in to "strong-arm him out of the company." Matze owned 40% of Parler, the suits says, while Mercer had 60%, though her ownership was kept under wraps. The filing says Parler valued itself at $1 billion in documents. But when he was fired, Matze says, he was told the fair market value of his holdings came to $3. (Read more Parler stories.)