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Kanye West Announces Plan to Buy Parler

'In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves...'

(Headline USA)The rapper formerly known as Kanye West (now legally known as Ye) is offering to buy conservative-friendly social network Parler, shortly after getting locked out of Twitter and Instagram.

The acquisition of Parler would give the wealthiest black man in America—reportedly worth more than $6 billion—control of a new outlet for his opinions with no gatekeeper, if he can persuade his fans to follow him onto the burgeoning platform.

Even among the new breed of right-wing, and libertarian social apps that purport to support free speech by having looser rules and moderation, Parler’s user base is tiny—and with competition only increasing, there is no clear roadmap to growing it beyond a niche platform chasing crumbs left by mainstream social media.

It doesn’t help that the figureheads of two top rival sites may prove to be equally strong public personalities: former President Donald Trump, whose Truth Social was just approved on Google’s app store; and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently announced his intention to move forward on a blockbuster acquisition of Twitter.

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Musk has already made it clear he would like to loosen Twitter’s rules and content-moderation efforts, including reinstating Trump’s account. If users who left Twitter—either because they felt it was constricting to their political views or becase they were kicked off—return, sites like Parler, Gab and Truth Social could end up losing users.

Parlement Technologies, which owns the platform, and West said Monday 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.

Parler restructured its business last month to form Parlement Technologies, which it said is to become the “world’s premier free speech technology infrastructure and platform.”

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This means that rather than running a single platform such as Parler, the company wants to provide services to other conservative sites that left-wing tech companies refuse to support.

It’s not clear if the deal with Ye was already in the works when Parler announced the restructuring in September, and Parlement did not immediately return a message for comment.

After enraging leftists with a series of provocative and controversy-generating stunts—including a recent two-part interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson—Ye was blocked from posting on Twitter and Instagram a week ago for 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 has also suggested slavery was a choice and called 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.

Parler has struggled amid competition from other conservative-friendly platforms like Truth Social, which are tiny as well compared with mainstream social media sites, although that may be due in some part to the monopolistic dominance of leftist ideologues in other parts of the tech industry, such as server-hosting and app-distribution.

Parler was kicked offline in January 2021 over baseless allegations that it was responsible for the uprising at the U.S. Capitol earlier that month.

A month after the attack, Parler announced a relaunch. It returned to Google Play last month.

Parler had an average of 725,000 monthly active users in the U.S. for the first half of this year, according to Data.ai, which tracks mobile app usage. That’s down from 5.2 million in the first half of 2021. Overall, including people outside the U.S., Parler still failed to reach the 1 million mark in the first half of this year.

Truth Social, meanwhile, 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—although some questions surround the degree to which the company’s users may be fake bot accounts.

Ye’s acquisition will be a bold new financial venture for him. He has amassed a fortune in the music and fashion business by effectively commodotizing the hipness of his own brand within youth culture, but the demographics for Parler may be drastically different.

While Americans ages 50 and older make up 24% of the U.S. adult Twitter population, they produce nearly 80% of all political tweets, according to Pew. This is the audience Ye’s Parler would have to be courting if the rapper is serious about growing Parler’s user base.

“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.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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