Kanye West (Ye) wears a red MAGA baseball hat and gestures while talking.

Kanye West Is Pulling an Elon Musk and Buying Parler, the Hate Speech-Friendly Version of Twitter

In early October, Ye—formerly known as Kanye West before legally changing his name in 2021—had his Instagram and Twitter accounts restricted after posting wildly antisemitic messages on the platforms. On Twitter, he wrote that he was going to go “death con 3 On Jewish people,” whom he accused of trying to “black ball anyone whoever opposes [their] agenda.” On Instagram, he accused fellow rapper Diddy of being part of that agenda. “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,” he wrote.

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Like so many others eager to spew bigotry online, Ye has decided to move over to the right-wing social media cesspool Parler. But Ye is taking things a step further and has announced that he plans to buy the site.

The Paris Fashion Week spectacle

This most recent spiral seems to have stemmed directly from Ye’s appearance at Paris Fashion Week on October 3. Ye staged a last-minute secret show for his YZY fashion line and he showed up to the event with his friend, right-wing troll/commentator Candace Owens, the two of them wearing coordinated shirts blaring the white supremacist mantra “white lives matter.”

Ye’s attack on Diddy was a response to a video Diddy posted to Instagram condemning the shirt and the slogan while still praising Ye as a “free thinker.”

Ye lashed out at Diddy and when his account was locked, he posted a picture of himself with Mark Zuckerberg (who owns Meta, the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram) to Twitter. “Look at this Mark. How you gone kick me off Instagram?” he wrote before posting the message that ended up getting him booted from Twitter as well.

It’s also worth noting that in the days between Paris Fashion Week and his “death con 3” threat, Fox News aired a two-night event featuring his sit-down interview with Tucker Carlson.

As Vox describes it:

Throughout the interview, Ye made provocative insinuations about Jews and money and went on unprovoked tangents. His unsettling statements suggest he is growing increasingly paranoid, adopting a range of bizarre conspiracy theories and delusions, and harboring growing antisemitic tendencies. As disconcerting as the interview itself was, Vice later reported that Carlson’s show strategically edited it to make Ye’s remarks appear more coherent and less antisemitic than they apparently were. Even the broadcast footage was striking, however.

What is Parler?

While there are now a few right-wing social media sites (Parler, GETTR, Truth Social, ranked from big to biggest mess), Parler is probably best known as the OG landing pad for famous “conservatives” looking to throw a tantrum and make a public departure from Twitter. (See: Gina Carano.)

A press release on PR Newswire announced that Ye has entered into an agreement with Parlement Technologies to buy Parler, which the release calls an “uncancelable free speech platform.” But is it? Parler is still subject to the same sorts of guidelines that got Ye booted from Twitter and Instagram.

While the site’s community guidelines don’t ban hate speech outright, they do work to shield the platform from lawsuits and therefore have to bar users from engaging in speech that could constitute things like “criminal solicitation, fraud, and nuisance.”

Following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Google and Apple removed Parler from their stores, citing the platform’s role in allowing users to coordinate and incite violence. Parler eventually returned to the stores after agreeing to exclude some content. So not even a self-proclaimed “premier free speech social media app” can let users (or owners) say whatever they want—that is, unless they want to lose all hosting services and open themselves up to countless lawsuits.

Is Kanye really buying Parler?

This deal between Ye and Parlement Technologies seems to be legit. Unless he pulls an Elon Musk and changes his mind, the deal is expected to close by the end of the 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,” Ye says in a quote from the press release. As a reminder, those “conservative opinions” center around a threat to go “death con 3” on Jewish people.

Ye has been open in the past about his bipolar diagnosis and his struggles with mental illness. That, of course, is not a cause of or an excuse for antisemitism.

(image: Oliver Contreras – Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.