Kanye West, the controversial rapper who has lost big business deals over anti-Semitic comments, is no longer going to buy Parler, the “free speech” social media platform.
Parler said its parent company Parlement Technologies had “mutually agreed” with West, who goes by Ye, to “terminate the intent of sale” for the platform.
“This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November,” it added. “Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community.”
The platform, a niche Twitter alternative, first announced the intent to sell itself to West in mid-October, shortly after the rapper appeared alongside rightwing commentator Candace Owens, the wife of Parler’s chief executive George Farmer, at a fashion show in Paris. Both wore T-shirts with the phrase “White Lives Matter”, a critique on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shortly before the deal was announced, West was temporarily suspended from Twitter and Instagram, where he had tens of millions of followers, after making anti-Semitic comments. After the offensive posts were deleted he was allowed to return to the platforms.
One person close to the deal said that it had become clear some time ago that West was not in a strong enough financial position to complete the transaction. In October, West lost brand deals with Adidas and Gap, among others, following his controversial posts.
The deal to buy Parler was initially scheduled to close by the end of the year.
Parler was set up in 2018 as a “free speech” challenger to existing social media platforms, which some US conservatives and far-right supporters alleged were censoring right-leaning voices. Other alternative platforms include former US president Donald Trump’s Truth Social, Gettr, which was set up by former Trump adviser Jason Miller, and Rumble, a video platform backed by venture capitalists Peter Thiel and JD Vance.
However the platforms’ user numbers remain relatively small. According to data.ai, Parler had 983,000 monthly active users in the first half of the year. By contrast Twitter, which was in October bought by self-declared “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk, reported 238mn monetisable daily active users — a homegrown metric that counts the number of logged-in users to whom the platform shows advertising.
Parler was booted off both the Apple and Google app stores after the attack on the US Capitol in January 2021 for hosting rule-breaking content, before later being allowed back following an overhaul of its moderation processes.
Earlier on Thursday, West stirred further outrage after he appeared on a show with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler.