American rapper Kanye West is buying Parler, a conservative social media platform, for an undisclosed amount.
Legally known as Ye, the rapper and fashion designer was recently booted off Twitter and Instagram for antisemitic posts.
“In a world where conservative opinions are considered controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to express ourselves freely,” Ye said in a statement, as per CNBC.
George Farmer, the chief executive of Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, said the rapper would not have to fear being removed from social media again.
“This deal will change the world and how the world thinks about free speech. He is making a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again,” he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
What is Parler? Why is it controversial? Why is Ye purchasing the social media platform? We explain.
Parler and its past bans
Founded in 2018 by John Matze, Rebekah Mercer, and Jared Thomson, Parler gathered steam in 2020.
The company is built upon a “foundation of respect for privacy and personal data, free speech, free markets, and ethical, transparent corporate policy.”
As per Evening Standard, Parler has been defined as an “alt-tech version of Twitter attracting Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and far-right extremists.”
It was banned by Apple and Google last year in the aftermath of the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.
Amazon Web Services, a cloud hosting service, removed Parler, citing 98 posts on the platform that encouraged violence, per the Evening Standard report.
The platform reportedly carried discussions by former US President Donald Trump’s followers about ‘invading the Capitol.
Responding to the ban by Google, Parler’s then chief executive John Matze had said, “We won’t have to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!”
In September this year, Google restored the app on its Play Store, saying Parler had changed some of its content moderation policies.
Apple reinstated the relaunched Parler app in April 2021, CNBC reported.
Why is Parler controversial?
Parler billed itself as a “free speech” social network, which meant it lacked content moderation, and hence, posts that might be categorized as hate speech flourished on the platform.
According to an ADL report in 2020, the app became popular among those users who perceive mainstream social media platforms exhibit “anti-conservative” bias.
Parler has given a platform to accounts of supporters of the QAnon movement, which MarketWatch defines as “an American political conspiracy movement with several false claims” on various topics.
“Holocaust denial, antisemitism, racism and other forms of bigotry are also easy to find,” on the digital app, reports ADL.
Apple said last year that Parler has posts containing “direct threats of violence and calls to incite lawless action.”
It had also termed the social media platform’s processes to check the spread of “dangerous and illegal” content “insufficient,” reports CNN.
Why is Ye buying Parler?
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ye said he was motivated to buy Parler as social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter are “too restrictive” regarding user speech.
“When I got kicked off of Instagram and Twitter at the time, I knew it was time to acquire my platform,” he said.
The rapper stated Parler is for “people like him, who have been penalised by much bigger platforms”.
“We’re using this as a net for the people the thought police have bullied into coming and speaking their mind,” he added.
“Express how you feel. Express what’s tied up inside of you. Express what’s been haunting you. I use social media as my therapist,” Bloomberg News quoted Ye saying.
He also plans on inviting Trump on Parler and will join the former President’s alternative network, Truth Social, the report said.
Last week, the 45-year-old singer was locked out of Twitter just a day after he had returned to the microblogging site after nearly two years.
Ye had tweeted, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight, but when I wake up, I’m going death con 3. On JEWISH PEOPLE, The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are Jews also. You guys have toyed with me and tried to blackball anyone who opposes your plan.”
The Guardian reported that Twitter removed the post and locked his account on 9 October for violating its service policies against hate speech.
Instagram restricted Ye’s account after he claimed fellow rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs was controlled by Jewish people, an antisemitic conspiracy theory, as per NBC News.
The American Jewish Committee, an anti-hate group, had called Ye’s remarks “antisemitic.”
Ye had courted controversy earlier after he wore a ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt to his collection at Paris Fashion Week.