Kanye West, the rapper, has offered to acquire Parler, the social media alternative platform that is popular with conservatives, soon after being removed from Twitter and Instagram for making antisemitic statements.
West, legally known as Ye, would gain control of the social media platform and a newfound, unrestricted venue for his thoughts. Who will pay attention is the question.
There is no clear direction for the growth of Parler beyond being a specialised platform that harvests the leftovers from main social media sites. Parler’s user base is small, even among this new breed of predominantly right-wing, extreme-right, and libertarian social media apps that claim to support free speech by having relaxed rules and mediation.
Things could get even more complicated for Parler if Tesla CEO Elon Musk carries his ambition to buy Twitter. Musk has already stated that he wants to relax Twitter’s content filtering policies and reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account, among other things. Platforms like Parler, Gab, and Trump’s Truth Social might lose users given the return of the libertarian and far-right users who left Twitter—either because they thought it was restricted to their political ideas or taken off.
The specifics of the Parler deal were not disclosed, but Parler has stated it is required to sign a definitive contract with West and anticipates closing in the fourth quarter of the year. Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, would remain in the process by providing technical and cloud-based support.
Parlement Technologies, which Parler says will become “the world’s foremost free speech technology infrastructure and platform,” was formed last month after the company underwent a business restructuring. The startup wishes to serve other niche websites that are sometimes viewed as being too extreme for mainstream internet corporations to handle, rather than operating a single platform like Parler. When Parler announced the restructuring in September, it was unclear if the arrangement with Ye was already finalized. Parlement did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Since last week, Ye has been barred from engaging on Twitter and Instagram due to antisemitic comments that the social media platforms said breached their regulations. According to internet archive records, Ye referred to the U.S. defense readiness status scale known as DEFCON in a tweet where he stated that he would soon “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
Ye have said that the COVID-19 vaccination is the “mark of the beast,” and becoming a slave was a matter of choice. He faced backlash earlier this month for presenting his collection at Paris Fashion Week while sporting a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt.
“In an age where conservative beliefs are seen to be controversial, we must be sure that. After that, we can express ourselves freely,” West said in an interview with Parler.
Parler has suffered amid competition from other conservative websites like Truth Social, which are also small compared to mainstream social media sites. Data.ai, which measures mobile app usage, reports that Parler’s active monthly users on average is 725,000 in the U.S. during the first part of this year. That number decreased from 5.2 million in the first part of 2021. Overall, even with users from abroad, Parler could not surpass the million-user milestone in the first half of this year.
Truth Social, despite only being available on Apple devices and beginning in February had 2.4 million monthly users within the same time period, according to Data.ai. They also added that with around 3.8 million monthly active members, Gettr, a different right-leaning network that debuted in July 2021, is leading and ahead of both Parler and Truth Social.
None of them compare to Twitter, which claimed that it had an average daily user base of roughly 237.8 million active users during its most recent quarter. Content-moderation limitations at popular sites like Twitter and Facebook gave rise to many right-wing platforms, but they have been unable to draw sizable user bases.
Most people don’t truly want to debate politics online could be a contributing factor. As per the reports of Pew Research Center, one-third of tweets made in the United States are political, but these are primarily sent by a tiny subset of generally older people. According to Pew, while older Americans make up 24% of adult Twitter users in the U.S., they also write roughly 80% of all political tweets. If the rapper is serious about increasing the number of users, this is the audience he needs to be courting.
In August 2018, Parler was introduced; however, it did not gain traction until 2020. It was taken offline in January 2021 due to its involvement in the deadly uprising at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the month. Parler announced a relaunch one month after the assault. It was made available with the Google play store last month.
The CEO of Parlement Technologies, George Farmer, said in a prepared statement that “this partnership will transform the world and the way the world thinks about free expression.”