“In an interview this week, some believe I gave the impression that I somehow did not care whether Parler is used to incite violence. I want to set the record straight: That interpretation could not be further from the truth.”
Parler CEO John Matze
The CEO of Parler released a Hail Mary of a statement on Sunday night in a last ditch effort to convince the public he has a conscience and, presumably, win back some of the vendors that keep the site running. It comes after Amazon Web Services cut off all of Parler's servers, effective 11:59 p.m. (PT) tonight, and both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store suspended downloads of the app.
In the latest statement, John Matze responded to the backlash that ensued following his post-coup-attempt interview with journalist Kara Swisher on the Sway podcast, which many interpreted as a damning confirmation of his indifference to violence stemming from the network. While he previously said he "didn't feel responsible" for what happened at the Capitol despite Parler being among the sites organizers used to plan, and that advocation of violence will only be removed if it is "a clear and imminent threat," Matze on Sunday appeared to take a harder line, saying: "We do not condone or accept violence on our platform and we never will."
That might be easier to believe were it not for... [gestures broadly at everything]. Matze's own posts on Parler this weekend have continued to position the site as a victim and stoke users' fears of a universal ban on free speech (which this is not). All things considered, his latest words seem pretty disingenuous.
The full statement from Parler CEO John Matze follows (in italics)
“In an interview this week, some believe I gave the impression that I somehow did not care whether Parler is used to incite violence. I want to set the record straight: That interpretation could not be further from the truth.
“I founded Parler to be a place of open dialogue and discussion where we could work to move past the anger and hostility that seems to be consuming our otherwise civil society. Parler strives to bring people together and find common ground, peace and healing. We do not condone or accept violence on our platform and we never will.
“Our team worked hard to produce a strong set of Community Guidelines, which expressly forbids content which incites or threatens violence, or other activity which breaks the law. We’ve worked even harder to construct a system which engages our community to quickly and transparently enforce these rules and remove prohibited content.
“It hasn’t been easy. Parler does not engage in viewpoint discrimination, nor do we harvest and abuse personal data. Parler is not a surveillance app, so we can’t just write a few algorithms that will quickly locate 100% of objectionable content, especially during periods of rapid growth and the seemingly coordinated malicious attacks that accompany that growth. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been effective. Up until Friday afternoon, it seemed that Apple, Amazon, and Google agreed.
“Evaluated objectively, our system worked as well or better than the methods used by our competitors, while adhering to our principles. And we are working to improve it every day. We invite those with concerns to join our community and see our system in action. And we welcome your feedback.
“It is important to all of us at Parler that we get it right. We care deeply and are committed to being part of the long-term solution to save civil discourse.”
Time is running out — The company said on Saturday that it will work to rebuild its platform from the ground up now that Amazon Web Services has dropped Parler. That account is set to be suspended in a matter of hours. But even Parler's plan to start fresh seems to be hitting some roadblocks. Earlier today, the CEO revealed in a conversation with Fox News that even more companies have cut ties with Parler. "It's not just these three companies [Apple, Google, Amazon]," Matze said in an on-air call. "Every vendor, from text messages to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too, on the same day, and they're trying to falsely claim that we are somehow responsible for the events that occurred on the 6th."
It's not wholly surprising to see Matze toning it down as he scrambles to keep Parler alive. With no providers to lean on, Parler's goal of being functional again by "Monday at noon" is looking a lot more like a pipe dream.
For more context on how we got to this point, here’s a rundown of Parler's whirlwind few days (in reverse chronological order):