Over the past year or so, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken an increasingly dim view of anyone using their platform to express controversial or un-PC views. And some people have had enough of it. Tired of having their content curbed, disgruntled subscribers are jumping off the Twitter bandwagon like rats from a sinking ship. Although some have decided to ditch the social media habit altogether, most have simply switched allegiance to the new player in town – Parler. Established in 2018 with the intention of creating a free-speech focused network free of ‘editorial bullies,’ Parler is fast in danger of becoming 2020s biggest success story. Find out more about its creator and CEO, John Matze, with these ten fast facts.
1. He has a degree in Computer Science
Given his choice of career, it’s not too surprising to learn that Matze studied Computer Science. After graduating from the University of Denver in 2014, he took on a few temporary gigs as a software developer, even spending a few months at Amazon. But with his deep-seated dislike of authority figures, working the 9-5 was never going to suit him. In 2018, he teamed up with Jared Thompon, himself a Computer Scientist alum of the University of Denver, to launch Parler.
2. He aims to foster political discourse
Parler wasn’t just founded because Matze didn’t want a boss telling him what to do or what to think. It was founded because he didn’t want anyone telling anyone else what to do or think either. As he explained to foxnews.com, his aim in creating Parler was to create a kind of community town square where people could engage in the kind of political discourse they’d be free to do in real-life. “Social media was supposed to be about the people. It was supposed to be about people having a free voice, being able to be, you know, liberated from restrictions,'” he says. “And so that’s what we are here to offer is a community town square for people to have discussions.”
3. He promises Parler will be unbiased
Whether Matze likes it or not, Parler has started attracting a very particular type of audience – specifically, right-leaning conservatives with a reverence for President Donald Trump. But despite the realities of what it’s turned into, Matze claimes it was never his intention to opportunize Trump’s much-publicized frustrations with Twitter – although clearly, he’s not too concerned now that he has. During an interview with CNBC, Matze explained, “The whole company was never intended to be a pro-Trump thing. A lot of the audience is pro-Trump. I don’t care. I’m not judging them either way.”
4. He’s a free speech advocate
John Matze loves free speech. Loves it so much, in fact, he’s dedicated himself to creating a social media network that puts the concept front, left, and center. Under Parler’s terms and conditions, no content will be moderated based on politics or ideology, user data won’t be mined or sold, and the right of its users to say whatever they please will be fiercely protected. Basically, whatever floats in private conversation will float on Parler. “Anything that you can say on the street in New York, you can say on Parler, and the goal is to create conversation, not to dismantle conversation, to allow debate, conversation in general,” he says.
5. He refuses to ban hate speech
For some people, there’s a world of difference between free speech and hate speech. For them, curbing the one doesn’t necessarily curtail the other. But Matze doesn’t see the distinction, and if he does, he thinks it’s too nebulous to pay any mind too. “We refuse to ban people on something so arbitrary that it can’t be defined,” he says via washingtontimes.com. “How do you define the undefinable? You can’t. And so you see these sites trying to enforce these arbitrary rules and you notice that people are getting kicked off for the most random and arbitrary things like misgendering people. It’s absurd.”
6. He’s Parler’s biggest fan
There’s taking pride in your creation and then there’s being so obsessed with it, it becomes your life. Matze’s enthusiasm for Parler verges on the evangelical – so obsessed with it has he become, it leaves precious room for anything else. “I’ve been kind of on my own island on Parler for a while.” he tells Forbes . “I don’t watch TV. I don’t do anything. I get everything off Parler.”
7. He doesn’t allow any fighting talk
He might not have any intention to ban hate speech, but Matze does ask his users to abide by one rule – no fighting talk, please. According to Parler’s terms and conditions, “fighting words” are “incitements to violence that produce a clear and present danger or a personal assault with the intention of inviting the other party to fisticuffs.” Aware of the ambiguity of the guideline, Matze has recently hired a chief policy officer with a law background to overhaul what he admits is a ‘really awkward clause’.
8. He owes a world of thanks to Rebekah Mercer
If there’s one person above all others that Matze can thank for the success of Parler, its conservative donor Rebekah Mercer. As Washington Times explains, Mercer was one of Parler’s earliest backers, and it was her faith and support in the company that helped it emerge as one of the biggest new stories to come out of 2020. “The ever-increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online,” Mercer has said in a statement. “That someone is Parler, a beacon to all who value their liberty, free speech, and personal privacy.”
9. He’d welcome Trump on Board
Although President Trump has made no secret of his frustrations with Twitter, he’s yet to abandon it. His daughter Ivanka, on the other hand, has already jumped on board the Parler bandwagon. Although Matze has said in interviews that’s he’s “not sure” if Trump will eventually join, he’s said he would “love to have him.” “Given how he’s been treated at these other places, it’d probably be a nice breath of fresh air for him,” he’s added.
10. He’s inspired by Ayn Rand
During an interview with Forbes, Matze revealed a few of the people who have influenced his philosophy the most. His icons include the conservative economist Thomas Sowell, who he describes as “very logical”, and the libertarian writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, whose work he calls “very interesting.”