The CEO of a conservative social media app Parler John Matze and his family have gone into hiding after receiving death threats and harassment. According to him, a well-known hacker group, UGNazi, has targeted him.
As per a new court filing on Friday, January 15, from the legal team of Parler, which is the platform widely used by conservative supporters of Donald Trump, Matze and his family have been targeted by people who released details about his home address and threatened to come in his front door.
"Matze himself, as the CEO of the company Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to vilify, has had to leave his home and go into hiding with his family after receiving death threats and invasive personal security breaches," read the court filing.
Harassment and Hostility
Parler was booted off Apple and Google's platforms after the violent attack on the US Capitol on January 6. Amazon also took it off from AWS. In response, Parler filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. But, Amazon said Parler's suit had no valid legal basis and alleged that its employees have been faced with threats and harassment.
The filling from Parler's lawyers acknowledges the disturbing claims made by Jeff Bezos' company and said Amazon is not the one receiving threats. "Although AWS's motion to seal focuses only on its own employees, Parler's employees have been similarly harassed and threatened," the filing said.
"Parler's CEO, John Matze, Jr., reports in his declaration in support of Parler's TRO motion that many Parler employees are suffering harassment and hostility, fear for their safety and that of their families, and in some cases have fled their home state to escape persecution," it added.
This week, in an interview, Matze told Fox News that he has been receiving various threats and talked about the measures he would take to protect his family and himself. He said a hacker group called UGNazi (short for "underground nazi" and pronounced "you-gee" not "uhg") was targeting him. The group also released many of his passwords, as well as personal information on the internet.
This hacking group wreaked havoc across a broad spectrum of society in the US between 2012 and 2014. The group also claimed that in 2012 it took down Twitter for about 40 minutes and said taking down the site had been 'surprisingly simple'.
However, security expert Graham Cluley of Sophos previously said that the hackers claiming to be part of UGNazi have been involved in several attacks against websites (defacements, data leaks and DDoS attacks, that kind of thing). "One of the attacks they have been linked to targeted WHMCS and resulted in the exposure of half a million usernames and passwords. It's claimed that they exploited a zero-day vulnerability to break into web-hosting software that uses WHMCS," he added.
However, Matze said the current situation forced him to go into hiding with his family and there is no surety of when he will return home. He thinks that being away from his day-to-day life amid the chaos surrounding his company could actually be having a positive impact. "It's probably leveled me out. If I was at home right now, I think my stress levels would have been like three times higher ... at least there is that saving grace," he added.
All of these began after the Capitol riot which left five dead. Amid increasing pressure on Trump for his role in encouraging the violent protesters, Parler was banned by tech giants, after the accusations that the social media app was fostering calls to violence ahead of, and following the Washington DC riot. Later, Matze accused Google, Apple and Amazon of a coordinated attack to kill the competition.