Investor Rebekah Mercer issued a statement Saturday that she is one of the founders of Parler, the two-year-old social media platform that has exploded in popularity since Election Day. Parler has been the most popular app in Apple’s AppStore for two weeks and currently boasts more than 11 million users—up from 2.2 million in July.
Newfound popularity has led to high-profile and unfounded attacks against the platform.
CNN host Brian Stelter criticized Parler users for having “a bunker mentality,” while co-host Pamela Brown said of the social media service, “No, it’s not good. It’s a threat to democracy.”
Meanwhile, Dave Troy, chief executive officer of 410 Labs and a longtime critic of social media, floated an expansive conspiracy theory on Twitter that Parler is somehow a “Russian op” against America. His evidence? John Matze, one of the founders of the company, is happily married to a Russian woman.
“But it doesn’t add up,” Troy wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread. “Non-descript tech bro randomly meets ostensible Russian honeypot, travels to Russia, marries her, then returns to US to start a whacko social network with explicit political aims, in partnership with Russia aligned ops? Uh, ok.”
In fact, the company was started by Mercer and John Matze because they saw that Big Tech was using their monopoly power to stifle political dissent. They believed that was wrong and decided to do something about it. Contrary to reports by the Wall St. Journal, Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund manager has no involvement with Parler and does not own any stake in the company.
Mercer issued the following statement Saturday morning about why she founded Parler with Matze:
“John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy. Benjamin Franklin warned us: ‘Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.’ 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. That someone is Parler, a beacon to all who value their liberty, free speech, and personal privacy.”