Kanye West is buying the rightwing social network Parler for an undisclosed sum, the site has announced.
The purchase by the rapper, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” he said in a statement.
George Farmer, the chief executive of Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, said: “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.”
Farmer, who is married to West’s friend the rightwing activist Candace Owens and is the son of the former Conservative party treasurer and peer Michael Farmer, added: “Once again, Ye proves that he is one step ahead of the legacy media narrative. Parlement will be honoured to help him achieve his goals.” Parlement Technologies will continue to operate as an independent company, according to a press release, providing “technical support and the use of private cloud services” to the Parler site.
The social network was founded in 2018 by John Matze and Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of the billionaire hedge fund manager and Breitbart co-owner Robert Mercer. But the fact many of those who carried out the 6 January storming of the US Capitol used the site led to the ousting of Matze and his replacement in May 2021 by Farmer.
In the aftermath of the attack on the US Capitol, Parler was removed from the Apple and Google app stores, and on 10 January went offline entirely after Amazon Web Services pulled its account.
Despite its billing as a “free speech” social network, the site was forced to add content moderation to be restored to the Apple App Store in May 2021, and did not return to Android devices until September 2022.
Parler is just one of a number of similar platforms, including the Trump-founded Truth Social and the independent network Gab, whose use of a frog logo led it to be associated with the “alt-right”, although the site said it had selected the logo as “a symbol of prosperity”.
West’s move to acquire the site comes after a series of antisemitic outbursts led to his account being blocked from posting on Instagram and Twitter. After donning a “white lives matter” shirt alongside Owens during Paris fashion week, West joined the Fox News host Tucker Carlson for an interview in which he accused Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, of having worked with the Israeli government for personal profit.
He then took to Instagram to share the contents of a text chat with Sean Combs, known by his rapper aliases Diddy and Puff Daddy, in which he accused Combs of being controlled by “Jewish people”. After West’s Instagram account was suspended in response to the post, which the American Jewish Committee called “anti-Jewish”, he turned to Twitter, where his account had been dormant for some years.
There, he posted that he would be going “death [sic] con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also[.] You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.” Twitter quickly deleted the post and locked his account.
His last outburst came less than half an hour after the would-be Twitter owner Elon Musk had personally welcomed him back to the site, and a few days later, Musk tweeted to say: “Talked to ye today & expressed my concerns about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart.”
The following day, the Shop podcast cancelled a recording with West after “he used the Shop to reiterate more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes”. West has yet to comment on the cancellation.