Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon on Wednesday defended the company’s decision to sever ties with the Parler social network following last week’s deadly pro-Trump uprising in the U.S. Capitol.
In an interview on CNBC’s Closing Bell, McKinnon criticized Parler for not doing enough to regulate the contributions made on his platform and denied concerns that his actions restricted freedom of expression.
“We’re very, very much in favor of free speech. In fact, we have clients from across the political spectrum – new organizations, candidates – and we strongly believe in it,” said McKinnon, whose company sells security and identity management software.
“We do not believe in illegal activity and platforms that support illegal activity, and it was clear in this case that Parler did not even attempt to suppress terrorism threats, incitement to violence, and terrorism planning,” added McKinnon . “That is exactly what crossed the line for us.”
Okta announced its decision to end Parler’s access to its software in an early Sunday morning tweet. The alternative social network, which has attracted conservative users but also right-wing extremists, used a free trial version of its product.
San Francisco-based Okta doesn’t expect companies using their services to be “perfect” with content moderation, McKinnon said, “as long as they’re trying to have a compliance policy.”
Screenshots of the Parler app viewed by CNBC show users posted clues about firing squads, as well as calls for guns to be brought in for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
Okta’s action came shortly after Amazon Web Services announced that it would no longer provide cloud services to Parler, and it cited “violent content” on the platform platform that violated the AWS Terms of Service.
In response, Parler sued Amazon, accusing the Seattle-based company of violating antitrust laws. An Amazon spokesman previously told CNBC that Parler’s claims were unfounded.
Google and Apple have also removed the Parler app from their app stores. Apple opposed a similar stance to McKinnon, saying Parler had not taken “adequate measures to combat the spread” of threats on its platform.
Parler has gone offline, and founder and CEO John Matze said in a statement Monday that the shutdown will likely take “longer than expected”. It was first introduced in 2018.
“This is not due to software limitations. We have our software and all data ready,” wrote Matze. “Rather, the statements made by Amazon, Google and Apple to the press about the blocking of our access have led to most of our other providers also stopping their support for us.”
Parler did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on McKinnon’s comments.
– CNBC’s Annie Palmer contributed to this report.