Artist Kanye West — who changed his name to Ye in 2021 — has bought the Twitter-like social network Parler after being banned from the platform and Instagram for posting anti-Semitic comments. Parlement Technologies, owner of Parler, has made public this Monday that it has reached an agreement in principle with the rapper to sell him his social network, although it has not revealed the figures of the transaction.
I’ve been to Parler and it’s a cesspool of open racism and hate
Parler is a minority social network that became the refuge of the American extreme right after the accounts of Donald Trump and a good part of his followers were blocked after the assault on the Capitol in January 2021. The platform boasts a “freedom of non-cancellable expression” which includes, for example, calls for violence and hate speech that the main social networks do not tolerate.
Ye’s move to buy it comes just a week after Twitter blocked his profile for making death threats “to the Jewish people”: “You have been playing me and trying to exclude anyone who opposes your agenda,” he wrote in a tweet. The artist, who hadn’t tweeted since 2020, was back on the platform after being banned days earlier from Instagram for another anti-Semitic post.
On Instagram, Ye had accused rapper Sean Combs, better known as Diddy, of being “controlled by Jews.” The company decided the comments violated his policy against hate speech and blocked his account, which had 18 million followers.
The artist claims that he is not anti-Semitic “because black people are in fact also Jewish.” However, and despite the fact that his statements have been criticized by a large part of the users and anti-racist organizations in the US, Ye continued with the controversy. “The Jews have taken over the black voice,” he said on a podcast this weekend: “Whether it’s because we wear Ralph Lauren’s T-shirt, or because we all have a record label deal, or because we have a Jewish manager, or because we have a contract with a Jewish basketball team, or because we have made a movie on a Jewish platform like Disney.”
In a world where conservative views are considered controversial, we need to make sure we have the right to express ourselves freely.
Kanye West (now known as Ye)
In the statement announcing the purchase of Parler, Ye denounces that this type of expression is being unfairly persecuted. “In a world where conservative views are seen as controversial, we need to make sure we have the right to express ourselves freely,” she said.
“This agreement will change the world” has proclaimed the CEO of Parlement Technologies, George Farmer. “It will change the way the world thinks about freedom of expression. Ye is taking an innovative step in the free speech media space and will never again have to fear being removed from social media.”
“Ye has become the richest black man in history through music and clothing, and he is taking a bold stance against recent big tech censorship, using his vast talent to continue to lead the fight to create a truly non-cancellable environment”, highlights the company in the statement.
Parler is not the only social network that has tried to make a deal out of users who feel they have been unfairly banned from other platforms for their extremist views. Other companies like Gab and, more recently, the network promoted by Donald Trump Truth Social were born with the same objective. They represent spaces “where the far right meets traditional conservatives and that represents the tradition of hate in American culture,” explained Malaika Jabali.
The trend threatens to transcend these small platforms. Ye’s purchase of Parler comes at a time when billionaire Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has yet to be completed, which was also fueled by what Musk sees as a lack of freedom of expression on the platform.
Musk has confirmed that Trump’s expulsion from Twitter after inciting violence in the assault on Capitol Hill seemed “a mistake” and that he would allow the former president to return if he completes the purchase of Twitter. He also celebrated Ye’s return to Twitter before it was suspended.
According to its statistics, Parler has about 16 million members in 2022. Twitter has about 400 million, Instagram is close to 1.5 billion, and Facebook exceeds 2.2 billion users. Under the terms of their agreement in principle, Ye and Parler intend to close a definitive deal “during the fourth quarter of 2022.”