Kanye West will be buying the conservative social media platform Parler, according to the current owner of the platform.
Parlement Technologies, which owns the platform, said it had reached an agreement to sell the “pioneering uncancelable free speech platform” to the rapper who now goes by the name Ye.
“This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech,” Parlement Technologies CEO George Farmer said in a statement.
Parlement Technologies and Ye said the acquisition should be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, but details, such as price, were not disclosed.
The tech company also said that the agreement includes the use of private cloud services via Parlement’s private cloud and data center infrastructure.
Kanye West was blocked from posting on mainstream social media
The rapper, who is formerly known as Kanye West, changed his legal name to Ye last year.
Ye, a music producer, rapper, acclaimed fashion designer, and former husband of Kim Kardashian, is no stranger to controversy.
The rapper was recently blocked from posting on Twitter and Instagram for antisemitic posts.
In one post on Twitter, Ye wrote he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” making an apparent reference to the U.S. defense readiness condition scale known as DEFCON.
Ye also faced backlash in recent years for suggesting slavery was a choice and calling the COVID-19 vaccine “the mark of the beast.” Earlier this month, he faced public backlash for wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt to his collection at Paris Fashion Week.
The controversial star has been active on Parler, which considers itself a “viewpoint-neutral social media app dedicated to freedom of expression, civil discourse, and user privacy.”
In a statement, Ye said “in a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.”
Parler is considered a controversial social media platform
Parler was launched in August 2018 and didn’t start picking up steam until 2020. When mainstream platforms began censoring their content, Parler gained popularity, especially among conservative and controversial figures.
Right-wing influencers, such as Ivanka Trump, have encouraged those frustrated with Big Tech censorship to join them on Parler.
At first glance, Parler looks a lot like Twitter and Facebook. Its content, however, has been said to promote extreme right-wing voices, hate speech, and conspiracy theories. However, the platform continues to emphasize that it doesn’t have a particular ideological affiliation.
In response to criticism that the platform promotes conspiracy theorists and white supremacists, John Matze, the former Parler CEO, said:
“Our general premise is that we believe in the good of the American people as a whole, and that people should be able to have these discussions and let the crazies come out and let the world see who they are and talk with them, and not let them hide and fester and do some nasty things.”
He added, “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”
Parler has been accused of inciting violence
In the final days of the 2020 US election, Parler’s popularity exploded. The app saw a spike in downloads after Joe Biden won the election. At one point, in November 2020, the app shot up to the top spot in the App Store. The Washington Post reported that the site had more than ten million active users following the election.
The app was removed after the Capitol riots in January 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Parler was then accused of allowing conservative posts aiming to incite violence in the US. It returned to the Google Play Store only last month.
Following Donald Trump’s ban from Twitter and other mainstream sites in 2021, Parler was expected to be the new platform Trump would choose to continue posting his controversial statements.
However, Trump ended up launching his own social media platform, Truth Social.
Truth Social markets itself much like Parler, promising censor-free content. The platform’s tagline implores potential users to “follow the truth.”
Kanye West could bring more users to Parler
The controversial star’s acquisition could also breathe new life into Parler, which has struggled amid competition from Truth Social and other conservative platforms.
Data.ai, a market research company that tracks mobile app usage, said that in comparison to Trump’s platform, Parler had a relatively small average of 983,000 monthly active users for the first half of the year.
Truth Social had 2.4 million monthly users during the same period despite only launching in February and strictly only on Apple devices.
The market research firm said another right-wing leaning platform, Gettr, which launched in July 2021, is ahead of both Parler and Truth Social with about 3.8 million monthly active users.
By contrast, Twitter reported that it had a daily average of about 237.8 million active users during its most recent quarter.
Elon Musk, meanwhile, has said the driving force behind wanting to buy Twitter is a will to uphold free speech. Musk has said he would overturn Trump’s ban if he follows through with a promised $44 billion takeover of Twitter later this month.