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Conservative social media site Parler sued by cofounder for ‘conspiracy’ to oust him

March 23, 2021, 6:03 PM UTC

Parler cofounder John Matze sued the conservative social media site for wrongfully ousting him as chief executive this year and taking away his 40% ownership stake after it was temporarily knocked offline in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Matze claims Parler’s investors and co-founders, including Jeffrey Wernick and Rebekah Mercer, conspired to intimidate him with threats and accusations of misconduct to “bully and deprive” him of his personal property and legal rights. Matze is seeking “millions” of dollars in damages in a complaint filed in Nevada state court.

The suit highlights in-fighting at the media site amid allegations that it helped incite the riot. Apple and Google suspended the Parler app on their stores and Amazon Web Services stopped hosting the site, saying it was unable to control violent rhetoric by users. That led Parler to terminate Matze, according to the complaint.

”John Matze, the founder of Parler and its former CEO, has commenced suit to vindicate his rights,” Todd Bice, a lawyer for Matze, said in a statement. “He seeks both compensatory and punitive damages pursuant to his claims.”

Parler, Wernick and Mercer declined to comment.

Parler, meanwhile, is suing Amazon.com, accusing the tech giant of bad faith after being banished from its servers.

Parler, which found a growing niche as a voice for aggrieved Donald Trump supporters and right-wing dialogue, claims Amazon conspired to undercut a new platform for conservative voices that would compete with Twitter Inc.

AWS has said there is no merit to Parler’s suit.

Parler returned to the internet last month with support from cloud-hosting company SkySilk Inc., which is based in Los Angeles.