Parler cried foul over the House Oversight Committee’s letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requesting an investigation, claiming that its CEO, John Matze, and his wife have been smeared in the process.
The committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), last week asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to begin a “robust investigation” into whether Parler played a role in the Capitol attack.
“Over the past few weeks, Parler has been repeatedly mischaracterized and treated unjustly. But the recent personal attacks on our CEO John, his wife Alina, and their family are reprehensible,” the company posted on its website Thursday, Jan. 21.
“Alina, whose working-class family lived in the former Soviet Union, came to America to start her own multi-racial, interfaith family with John,” it added. “To subject them to baseless accusations that their marriage is part of some twisted espionage scheme – all because she is an immigrant – is precisely the sort of ‘racism, nativism, fear, [and] demonization’ President Joe Biden urged us to reject in his inaugural address.”
Parler was referring to Maloney’s call to investigate whether the social media website is a “potential conduit for foreign governments” after the company retained the services of Russian company DDoS-Guard for traffic rerouting.
Maloney claimed that Parler was founded by Matze “shortly after he traveled to Russia with his wife,” who is a Russian national and “whose family reportedly has ties with the Russian government.”
“The entire Parler Team stands behind John and Alina,” the company stated in its post. “Our new President called for unity: ‘We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.’ The smears against John and Alina are exactly the sort of tactics he is imploring us all to abandon. Let’s all commit to working together toward unity and healing.”
Parler was de-platformed by Big Tech companies in recent weeks, citing the app’s inability to moderate violent contents before and after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. A Washington State court refused Parler’s request to have it order Amazon Web Services (AWS) to reinstate its service after AWS suspended its hosting service two weeks ago. (Related: Parler sues Amazon for terminating hosting services in a discriminatory, monopolistic fashion.)
Not everyone on the House Oversight Committee was in favor of Maloney. Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Greg Steube (R-FL) jointly wrote a letter to Maloney Monday, Jan. 25, criticizing her call to investigate Parler while sparing other social media platforms.
“Casting blame on a single social media company known for its conservative user base while simply ignoring other social media companies known for sympathizing with liberal causes is blatantly and overtly partisan,” they stated in the letter.
Comer and Steube said Maloney’s accusations directed to Parler “completely omit the fact that other social media platforms were also facilitators of the Jan. 6 riot.”
“A cursory search of other social media platforms yields identical, disturbing posts, from across the political spectrum, advocating for a wide swathe of positions, demonizing an equally diverse group of people,” they wrote, referring to posts found on Facebook and Twitter.
The two Republicans also claimed that casting Parler as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the U.S. “without one iota of evidence” is reckless.
“Your call for an investigation into Parler is a transparently political ploy taking advantage of the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6 to shut down speech Democrats dislike,” they wrote.
The lawmakers also called for any potential FBI probe to include Facebook and Twitter and “the roles those companies played to contribute to the Jan. 6 riot.”
Meanwhile, Parler COO Jeffrey Wernick told Fox News that the company welcomes a “robust examination of our policies and actions.”
“Like other social media platforms, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute those individuals responsible for organizing and carrying out the shameless Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” he said.
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