Another day, another moment of Kanye West tossing his impressive musical legacy into the garbage and disappointing us all. On Monday, it was announced that rapper and producer Ye—as West is now known—agreed to acquire Parler, a struggling conservative social media app. This comes just one week after the musician was restricted from Twitter and Instagram for posting blatantly anti-Semitic comments and conspiracy theories.
“This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech. Ye is making a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again,” said CEO George Farmer in a statement. Parler—an app that describes itself as an “uncancelable ecosystem” where “all voices are welcome”—played a role in the lead up to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In a report released in January, researchers with the left-leaning think tank New America analyzed millions of posts on the platform; it would be “impossible for anyone to open Parler and see a real-world view of anything,” one of the authors told Mother Jones. As my colleague Ali Breland noted, this researcher argued that “Parler was designed, either intentionally or because of neglect, to make it easy to run coordinated inauthentic campaigns.”
In January 2021, the app was blacklisted by several platforms, including Apple, Google, and Amazon. However, this didn’t last too long, with Apple reinstating Parler only four months later, albeit under the condition that it exclude its more “highly objectionable content.” Over a year later, Google also allowed Parler back into its storefront, saying that all apps are required to implement a robust moderation system. The only company that hasn’t brought Parler back on is Amazon. Shortly after the removal, Parler filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Amazon in attempt to get reinstated. Parler ended up withdrawing its claim two months later and filing a new lawsuit in state court.
In addition to his various anti-Semitic diatribes, Ye has recently been parroting a lot of right-wing talking points, both on his own social media accounts and in various TV and podcast interviews. On October 3, Ye and far-right talking head Candace Owens, who’s married to Farmer, were photographed together wearing White Lives Matter t-shirts at a fashion show for his Yeezy clothing line.
Earlier this week, during an interview on the podcast Drink Champs, Ye implied that George Floyd’s death was caused by fentanyl—reportedly coming to this conclusion after watching Owens’ documentary.
According to the Parler’s statement, Ye is expected to close the deal by the end of the year, once both parties enter a definitive purchase agreement.