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Artist formerly known as Kanye reveals Parler trick: Buying the far-right haven
Used to tweeting? Get ready for Yeeting
After public spats with Twitter and Instagram, Rapper Ye – formerly known as Kanye West – is buying social network Parler, an alternative micro-blogging site often associated with far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists, and others booted from mainstream platforms.
"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 statement provided by Parler.
That'll be Ye repeating the conservative talking-point that right-wing views are routinely unfairly censored. In reality, depending on the platform, that's either not true, or it's that conservative political communication gets flagged as misinformation more often than the opposition messaging.
Parlement Technologies CEO George Farmer said Ye's decision to buy Parler is yet another indicator that he's a step ahead of the "legacy media narrative" being spun by big tech companies. Parlement Technologies, which owns Parler, calls itself a "guiding force" in combating such narratives.
"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," Farmer said.
By the way, Farmer is the husband of Republican Candace Owens, a right-wing American political activist, commentator, and influencer.
Ye isn't Musk, and Parler isn't Twitter
The echoes of free speech radicalism and the sudden unannounced purchase of a social media company make Ye appear to be following in Elon Musk's Twitter-teasing footsteps albeit to a far smaller extent.
As Parler is a private company, it's difficult to figure out just how many users it has or how much influence it commands. Based on third-party sources, it's likely not much: Per NPR, analytics firm Apptopia suggested Parler had around 40,000 daily active users versus Twitter's 237 million.
The social network is generally associated with the far right, dangerous morons, and extremists because it allowed those people to post and share views that would get them kicked off other platforms. It was also used by Donald Trump supporters to fantasize about a stolen presidential election that wasn't and organize their violent, democracy-damaging January 6, 2021 insurrection.
- Cloudflare tries to explain why it protects far-right forums that stalk and harass victims
- Emails, chat logs, more leaked online from far-right militia linked to US Capitol riot
- AWS gave Parler a chance, won't say if it talked to NSO before axing spyware biz's backend systems
- Far-right internet haven Parler to be allowed back onto Apple's App Store with added content moderation
Parler was soon after denied hosting by AWS for allowing its denizens to incite and promote violence in the US capital, a move that resulted in the site and app going offline and reportedly losing lots of users who never returned.
The app was also thrown out of Apple and Google's software stores, and last year introduced content moderation to get itself listed again in those souks.
Parler stood up its parent Parlement last month, and talks with Ye apparently began after Paris Fashion Week, when the rapper was criticized for wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt.
Ye's behavior has been a topic of conversation for years as his many baffling choices have created media-ready controversy perfectly suited to keeping him in the headlines. Just a few days ago, he said he watched a documentary by Owens – wife of the Parler CEO – about George Floyd, and questioned whether Floyd was suffocated by a police officer kneeling on his neck for eight minutes.
Whether or not Ye's decision to buy Parler will endanger his reported friendship with Elon Musk remains to be seen, though the Twitter-stalking billionaire did take at least some credit for reuniting Ye with his 31 million-follower-strong Twitter account.
"Welcome back to Twitter, my friend," Musk tweeted after Ye's account was reinstated. "Talked to Ye today & expressed my concerns about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart," Musk added without elaboration. ®