What to know about Parler, the right-wing platform that Ye plans to buy

Following in the steps of President Trump and Elon Musk, Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, may soon own his own social media platform.

Parler, which describes itself as the premier global free speech platform, agreed to a deal in principle to sell itself to the controversial rapper and fashion designer, the company said Monday.

The move comes after Instagram and Twitter suspended Ye after he shared a series of racist and antisemitic statements on both social media platforms. The rapper said the bans prompted his decision to buy the company.

“When I got kicked off of Instagram and Twitter at the time, I knew it was time to acquire my own platform,” Ye told Bloomberg News on Monday. “People had talked about it and mentioned this idea for years, but enough was enough.”

Parler welcomed the deal, saying: “The acquisition ensures Parler a future role in creating an uncancelable ecosystem where all voices are welcome.”

So what is Parler?

Launched in 2018, Parler is based in Nashville. It is one of a string of new social media sites and web platforms that have become a home for right-wing supporters who feel alienated by the tightening policies against hate speech and violent rhetoric on bigger sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The platform describes itself as a “welcoming, nonpartisan Public Square” that prides itself on not limiting users’ speech — even when it is offensive, such as the comments Ye made this month.

Twitter suspended Ye’s account after he said he was going “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” the latest in several outbursts that have been peppered with antisemitic tropes.

“Parler’s content policies are based on the principle of individual rights — including everyone’s inalienable rights to speak freely and think for themselves,” Amy Peikoff, head of policy and legal at Parler, said in a statement. “While Parler has always prohibited violent or other rights-violating content, we agree with Nadine Strossen and other scholars that  ‘objectionable’ but otherwise lawful speech is best addressed by allowing or encouraging more speech.”

Any attacks on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation/identity or religion are flagged by filters that users can choose to use, Peikoff said.

Apple and Google last year removed Parler from their app stores after the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying the company hadn’t done enough to curb threats to safety.

Who owns it?

Parler’s backers include conservative political donor Rebekah Mercer, according to CNN.

Parler Chief Executive George Farmer is married to Candace Owens, the commentator who has been supporting Ye as he has gone on various outbursts.

The conservative firebrand was at Ye’s side at the YZY runway show during Paris Fashion Week, where the pair sparked a backlash by wearing “White Lives Matter” shirts (a slogan popularized by fascist and neo-Nazi groups).

Parler focuses on politics, health and social issues and does not fact-check users, said Jennifer T. Edwards, executive director of the Texas Social Media Research Institute at Tarleton State University.

“Parler is a niche social media platform on which conservatives feel the most comfortable. Users flock to sites that make them feel like they belong,” Edwards said.

How big is Parler?

Parler doesn’t have the reach of Twitter or Meta-owned Instagram.

Its appeal appears to have waned this year in the face of competition from startups targeting right-wing users.

In the U.S., Parler had 725,000 monthly active users in the first half of 2022, compared with 5.2 million in the same period last year, according to data analytics firm Data.ai.

Its ranking tumbled from third place among social/micro-blogging apps in the U.S. in the first half of 2021 to 10th in the first half of this year.

Who else does it compete with?

Parler has been overtaken in the rankings by former President Trump’s Truth Social and Gettr (founded by former Trump aide Jason Miller).

It also faces competition from Gab — the micro-blogging and social networking service known for its far-right user base, with posters including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — as well as Me.We, Rumble and DLive.

But being owned by Ye could be a boost to Parler.

“Through West’s efforts, Parler has the potential to become more mainstream,” Edwards said. “People who have never heard of the social media platform will flock to it, merely out of curiosity.”

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