By Michelle Chapman
The rapper formerly known as Kanye West is offering to buy right-wing friendly social network Parler shortly after getting locked out of Twitter and Instagram for antisemitic posts.
The acquisition of Parler would give West, legally known as Ye, control of a social media platform and a new outlet for his opinions with no gatekeeper.
But even among the new breed of largely right-wing social apps that purport to support free speech by having looser rules and moderation, Parler’s user base is tiny.
Parlement Technologies, which owns the platform, and West said the acquisition should be completed in the fourth quarter, but details like price were not disclosed. Parlement Technologies said the agreement includes the use of private cloud services via Parlement’s private cloud and data center infrastructure.
Ye was blocked from posting on Twitter and Instagram a week ago over antisemitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies. In one post on Twitter, Ye said he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” according to internet archive records, making an apparent reference to the U.S. defense readiness condition scale known as DEFCON.
Ye is no stranger to controversy, once suggesting slavery was a choice and calling the COVID-19 vaccine “the mark of the beast.” Earlier this month, he was criticized for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to his collection at Paris Fashion Week.
“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” Ye said in a prepared statement.
The acquisition could also breathe new life into Parler, which has struggled amid competition from other conservative-friendly platforms like Truth Social, started by former President Donald Trump. Parler had a relatively tiny average of 983,000 monthly active users for the first half of this year, according to Data.ai, which tracks mobile app usage.
Truth Social had 2.4 million monthly users during the same period, despite launching just in February and only on Apple devices, according to Data.ai. The market research firm said another right-leaning platform, Gettr, which launched in July 2021, is ahead of both Parler and Truth Social with about 3.8 million monthly active users.
None of them come close to Twitter, which reported that it had a daily average of about 237.8 million active users during its most recent quarter. Many of the right-wing platforms emerged from opposition to the content-moderation restrictions at mainstream services such as Twitter and Facebook, though billionaire Elon Musk has pledged to lessen some of Twitter's speech restrictions if he follows through with a promised $44 billion takeover of the San Francisco company later this month.
Parler, which launched in August 2018, didn’t start picking up steam until 2020. But it was kicked offline following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A month after the attack, Parler announced a relaunch. It returned to Google Play last month.
“This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech," Parlement Technologies CEO George Farmer said in a prepared statement.
Updated with elevation of the mention of Parler's tiny user base.