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HomeNewsKanye West to Buy Parler, a Libertarian Social-Media Platform, Company Says

Kanye West to Buy Parler, a Libertarian Social-Media Platform, Company Says


Parler says Kanye West has agreed to buy the libertarian-leaning social network popular with conservatives, the rapper’s latest foray into the debate around free speech.

Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies Inc., said Monday it had entered into an agreement in principle with Mr. West, who now legally goes by Ye, to buy the platform.

Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to be completed later this year, weren’t disclosed.

“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” Mr. West said in the press release disclosed by Parlement Technologies. 

Mr. West didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment beyond the press release.

The Parler deal is the latest in a series of moves by right-leaning individuals toward the building of an alternative social media universe for free-speech proponents.

Elon Musk,

the world’s wealthiest person, has been in a prolonged back-and-forth to potentially buy

Twitter Inc.,

in part so he could loosen its moderation controls. In June he told the company’s employees that people should be allowed to say pretty outrageous things on the platform as long as it’s within the law. 

Former President

Donald Trump,

who was permanently banned from Twitter in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot, launched his own social network called Truth Social in February. And in May, video platform Rumble said it was expecting an investment from a group of prominent conservative venture capitalists including

Peter Thiel

and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.

Launched in 2018, Parler has attracted millions of users by pitching itself as “free speech Twitter alternative.” Several of its users had been banned by other large social networks, including Alex Jones, the far-right talk-show host and conspiracy theorist, and supporters of the Proud Boys.

George Farmer,

chief executive at Parlement Technologies, said the deal will “change the way the world thinks about free speech.”

The deal comes as Mr. West has been enmeshed in controversy over his public messaging and social media.

In an interview, Mr. Farmer said discussions with Mr. West about a Parler deal began casually when his wife

Candace Owens,

an American conservative author and commentator, attended Mr. West’s fashion show in Paris. 

Both Mr. West and Ms. Owens wore “White Lives Matter” shirts at the event. 

The phrase, an inversion of “Black Lives Matter”—the movement that, among other things, aims to restrict police use of force and transfer police funding to other services—is often used by white supremacist groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Ms. Owens had a conversation with Mr. West about the social-media landscape and the notion of Mr. West buying Parler evolved from there, Mr. Farmer said.  

Mr. West has also been critical of major Silicon Valley social-media companies. Earlier this month, Twitter Inc. locked his account after the musician and designer posted an anti-Semitic tweet.

Mr. West’s Instagram account has also been locked over a post that violated company policy, according to a spokesperson for Instagram parent Meta Platforms Inc. Both Twitter and Instagram have policies that prohibit the posting of offensive language, among other restrictions.

Buying Parler was “a very attractive solution to his issues of being censored,” Mr. Farmer said. 

Mr. West’s corporate sponsorships also have recently been scrutinized. Adidas AG said it decided to place its partnership with Mr. West under review, putting in doubt an arrangement that has produced the popular Yeezy collection of sneakers.

Last month, Gap Inc. said it was winding down its partnership with Mr. West, saying he and the company were “not aligned” in how they work together, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

For Parler, the platform faced backlash in 2021 for serving as a hub for people alleged to have organized the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and participated in it.

Afterward, Apple Inc. and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. removed Parler from their mobile-app stores, and Inc. stopped providing Parler with web-hosting services, forcing it offline for weeks. The major tech companies said Parler had broken their rules by failing to have an adequate content-moderation system in place.

Parler sued Amazon in Seattle federal court, alleging that Amazon Web Services kicked the company off its cloud servers for political and anticompetitive reasons. The company said Parler was suspended for not removing violent content that violated AWS’s terms of service. The case is ongoing.

Parler resumed operations online by signing up with a different cloud provider. It was reinstated on the App Store in May 2021 after agreeing to add technology to detect violent content or incitements to violence. It returned to Google Play last month after agreeing to modify some of its content-moderation policies and enforcement.

As of Oct. 16, Parler has been downloaded from Apple and Google’s app stores 8.5 million times globally since its launch, with 6.2 million downloads in the U.S., according to analytics firm  

In the first half of the year, Parler averaged about 983,000 monthly active users globally, down from 6 million in the first half of 2021, the firm’s data show.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Parlement will continue to provide Parler with web-hosting and other services. The company recently completed a fundraising round for $16 million, bringing the total amount raised to $56 million. Parlement also recently acquired Dynascale Inc., a provider of cloud services with around 50,000 square feet of data center space in the U.S.  

Mr. Farmer said the deal “further advances the goal of Parlement becoming the plumbing of the internet.” 

Ginger Adams Otis contributed to this article.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected] and Gareth Vipers at [email protected]

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