American rapper Kanye West, who now goes by the name of Ye, has proposed to buy Parler, the social media platform popular among US conservatives, days after being booted off Twitter and Instagram over anti-Semitic posts.
Nashville-based Parler, which has raised about $56m to date, said on Monday it expects the deal to close during the fourth quarter of 2022. Parent Parlement Technologies did not give a deal value.
The deal comes as Parler, launched in 2018 and styled itself as a free-speech space for those seeking an alternative to platforms such as Twitter Inc, has been reinstated on Google and Apple Inc’s app stores after being removed following the US capitol riots in January 2021.
Ye was locked out of Twitter and Instagram a week ago over anti-Semitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies.
Ye is no stranger to controversy, once suggesting slavery was a choice and calling the COVID-19 vaccine “the mark of the beast”. Earlier this month, he was criticised for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to his collection at Paris Fashion Week.
Ye, also a fashion designer, has in the past few weeks terminated his partnership with apparel retailer Gap Inc, while German sporting goods maker Adidas has put its business partnership with the rapper under review.
“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 said in a prepared statement.
The acquisition could also breathe new life into Parler, which has struggled amid competition from other conservative-friendly platforms like Truth Social. Parler had a relatively tiny average of 983,000 monthly active users for the first half of this year, according to Data.ai, which tracks mobile app usage.
By contrast, Twitter reported that it had a daily average of about 237.8 million active users during its most recent quarter.
“This deal will change the world, and change the way the world thinks about free speech,” Parlement Technologies CEO George Farmer said in a statement.
Ye seemed to have joined Parler on Monday and had about 91 followers at the time of the announcement.
The American rapper had announced in 2020 that he would run for the US presidency in an apparent challenge to former President Donald Trump, but later pulled out.
Parler has also garnered traction from supporters of Trump.
Last month Parler created a new parent company, Parlement Technologies Inc, as part of an overhaul.