Ye’s hate cemetery: what Kanye West’s deal to buy Parler actually means


New York
CNN business

After being blocked from his Twitter and Instagram accounts for anti-Semitic posts, Monday’s announcement that Kanye West will buy far-right social platform Parler for an undisclosed amount made headlines. But the platform once celebrated by right-wing figures as the future of “free speech” online has quietly morphed into a social media graveyard haunted by extremists and very few others, including Kanye himself.

The rapper-turned-hero of the MAGA, who now goes by the name of Ye, was not a user of the platform he intends to buy until Monday and never posted on the app. At press time, the music icon only had 10,000 followers on the platform, a tiny sliver of the 31 million followers he amassed on Twitter.

The lack of followers is, of course, not indicative of Ye’s popularity. But it depends on the popularity – or not – of the platform you just agreed to acquire.

“He’s dead,” a Republican activist involved in digital advertising told me over the phone when I asked him what he thought of the platform. “And when I say he’s dead, he’s fucking dead.”

Comscore data analyzed by The Righting shows that Parler attracted only 137,000 unique visitors in August, a dramatic drop from the 12.3 million seen in January 2021, when the platform was used to plan the January 6 attack on the Capitol. . (In comparison Twitter, even a small social platform compared to giants like Meta, has more than 237 million active users every day.)

In truth, West hasn’t even agreed to buy a “conservative social media platform,” as many press headlines would have readers believe. What she agreed to buy is a platform with an embarrassingly small user base made up of far-right extremists and racists.

“Nobody goes there for a dialogue on conservative ideas,” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem pointed out on the air Monday. “They go there to find hate with the same mindset.”

“The right headline is that Kanye West has bought a platform known for planning and executing the attack on the United States Capitol,” added Michael Hayden, spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that monitor extremist groups. “This is what Parler is best known for.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out to me that it is “the key for people to understand that Ye has not simply purchased some benign alternative social media website where conservative views are debated and discussed,” and free speech rules the day. ” Greenblatt described Parler as “a safe haven for white extremists, anti-Semites and supremacists,” pointing to users associated with Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.

Following the announcement of Ye’s intention to buy the platform, his leadership, which has struggled with user safety and privacy, sent an email to its top users, announcing the deal. But the executives who sent the email forgot to list the recipients as BCC, exposing the private email addresses of many prominent right-wing figures, including Ivanka Trump, Dan Scavino, Rep. Elise Stefanik and other.

“Hello everyone!” a VIP wrote in a reply to all. “It’s a pleasure to be fooled by such a fine crew.”

A version of this article first appeared in the “Trustworthy Sources” newsletter. Subscribe to the daily digest that chronicles the evolution of the media landscape here.

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