Kanye West Is Buying Parler (Yes, Really)

Kanye West is buying his own social media site after being banned from several platforms following a series of controversial and racist comments. Kanye is no stranger to controversy, having hit the headlines numerous times over the years for comments and actions many believe are related to the singer's mental health issues. The artist currently known as Ye has had a long struggle with bipolar disorder and was hospitalized following an outburst in 2016. During the incident, Kanye delivered a long speech criticizing several high-profile music industry figures, including Jay-Z and Beyonce, and praised the then-incoming president Donald Trump (via The New York Times). Previous controversies revolving around the rapper-turned-fashion designer include the time he stormed on stage during the VMA awards during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech to declare Beyonce had released one of "the best albums of all time."

The most recent string of incidents began during the 2022 Paris Fashion Week when Kanye showed up alongside right-wing talking head Candice Owens. Both West and Owens were wearing "White Lives Matter" hoodies, and West's decision to don the attire was immediately criticized by members of the music industry, people on social media, and businesses West works with. Following the incident, sportswear manufacturer Adidas said it was "reviewing its partnership" with the controversial musician (via BBC).

The Paris Fashion Week incident was followed by an interview with Tucker Carlson, where Kanye defended his decision and claimed the backlash was due to him not acting in a way "the media" approved of. He claimed the white lives matter shirt was "funny," "the obvious thing to do," and that he wrote white lives matter on a shirt "because they do." Vice also obtained some controversial clips that were cut from the interview, which included a number of anti-semitic comments.

Kanye banned from social media

Following the Tucker Carlson interview, West took to social media. On his Instagram account, Ye posted screenshots of several conversations he was having via text message. One of those involved an argument with fellow musician P Diddy where Diddy appeared to be trying to talk Kanye down or meet up with him. Kanye instead appeared to respond with a message saying, "This ain't a game. Ima use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me." The rapper also captioned that particular screenshot with the words "Jesus is Jew" (via Gizmodo).

That part of the exchange with P Diddy resulted in West being banned from Instagram, but the rapper and producer simply migrated to Twitter where he tweeted his frustrations about how the Meta-owned platform had silenced him. West tweeted a picture of himself and Zuckerberg with the words: "Look at this Mark. How you gone kick me off instagram. You used to be my *****." West was welcomed back to Twitter by Elon Musk, who is currently in the process of buying the social media network and has stated he intends to turn it into a "free speech platform." 

Unfortunately for West, Musk's takeover isn't complete yet and the rapper was promptly banned for an anti-semitic tweet he made shortly after returning to Twitter. The now-deleted tweet consisted of Kanye saying he was going to go "death con 3" on Jewish people and that he "can't be anti-semitic" because "Black People are actually Jew also." Despite the social media bans, West still hasn't backed down or attempted to retract any of the statements ... and he's also a multi-billionaire, which means he has options

West to buy Parler

Since his Twitter ban, Yeezy has appeared on a number of podcasts where he has attempted to repeat and expand on his anti-semitism, along with his stance on abortion and other political issues. But as with his Twitter messages, some of the podcasts he took part in have been pulled from the air. With a net worth of $2 billion, West is the most successful musician of all time. This gives him plenty of options. CEO of Parlement Technologies George Farmer, which currently owns the platform, is also enthusiastic about the deal. Farmer says (via PRNewswire): "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. Once again, Ye proves that he is one step ahead of the legacy media narrative. Parlement will be honored to help him achieve his goals."

You can't be banned from something you control, and West seems to be following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, who decided to launch his own social media platform after Twitter banned him in 2021. Rather than build an app from scratch, West is instead purchasing an already established Twitter alternative called Parler. 

Parler bills itself as an "uncancelable free speech platform" and West seems to share that ideal. In a statement published in a press release, the controversial rapper said: "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves." The deal is expected to close by the end of 2022, and Parlement would take on a supporting role — maintaining the platform's servers and keeping the technical side of things going.

Will it work out for Kanye?

Kanye West isn't the first person to become frustrated with what they see as social media censorship, nor is Parlor the only alternative platform. Donald Trump's Truth Social is probably the most well-known recent example, and Gab is another. However, none of the Twitter alternatives have grown to match the site they're attempting to emulate. There's also a danger that the platforms will essentially become right-wing echo chambers, as people with alternative views may stick to the more popular mainstream platforms. There's also a small chance that Yeezy may have the right combination of financial backing and global appeal to actually make Parler a success — though it may all be pointless.

While Kanye West is the most successful musician of all time, Elon Musk is the most successful man in modern history, full stop. Musk is so rich that, rather than launch an alternative to Twitter, he can afford to just buy Twitter itself and tweak the rules to his liking. While this could lead to a left-wing exodus from the platform, as many people have threatened to leave over Musk's plans to create a hub of "free speech," there are no guarantees the left-wing alternatives won't become unpopular echo chambers as the right-wing Twitter knockoffs have. Either way, we're in for an interesting few months with regard to social media. West is expected to acquire Parler in "the final quarter of 2022" while Musk and Twitter have until the end of October to agree on a deal or the ongoing court case surrounding the sale continues.