Ye is back at it again. As much as the Internet doesn’t want to give him airtime, the musician-turned-designer-turned-controversial crusader keeps giving us reasons to do so.
Following his last-minute surprise showcase at Paris Fashion Week — where he dressed models in White Lives Matter slogans and then relentlessly targeted fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson for speaking up against them — it’s as though the veil has finally been lifted. Public sympathy is running out, Twitter rapidly shut down Ye’s account after he posted a series of anti-semitic comments, and celebrities and notable names everywhere have expressed their own disgust at the personality’s latest rampage.
Ye’s response to the whole thing? Agreeing to buy conservative Web3 social media platform, Parler.
Unlike its mainstream counterparts, Parler has remained predominantly under the radar since it was launched in 2018, partly because the space resides in the still newfound landscape of Web3. As of today, the channel is largely used for participating in uncensored discourse; in other words, it serves as an echo chamber for questionable ideologies.
Dubbed as the “uncancelable” social media domain, news of Ye’s investment in the company feels all too reminiscent of Elon Musk’s ambitions to buy Twitter and “preserve free speech.” Donald Trump (who is also banned on Twitter) recently launched and regularly posts on his own platform, Truth Social. It also comes as no surprise that Parler is currently controlled by Candace Owens’ (the American conservative influencer who also donned Ye’s White Lives Matter shirt in Paris) husband.
Before his public “reformation,” the artist formerly known as Kanye was recognized for his impressive roster of achievements. From being a musical maverick to collaborating with apparel giants such as Adidas and Gap, the multi-hyphenate creative soon established a space within the entertainment and fashion industry where he was respected and admired for his idiosyncratic talent and unconventional approach to creativity. Kanye had a personal stamp that every global company wanted on their merchandise. Now, they couldn’t be quicker to take him off.
Fast forward to today, as Ye’s acquisition for an undisclosed sum hits headlines, concerns are rising over whether fans of the absolutist will follow suit, leaving behind the traditional sites and instead turning to a space where the proliferation of extremist doctrine isn’t monitored. The argument as to where the line for free speech should be drawn has existed since before the dawn of Web2, but Parler’s rise to prominence (while micro in comparison to competitors, the platform still hosts around half a million active users per month) suggests that it has rapidly cultivated a breeding ground of “anything goes” commentary.
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that powerful individuals are on a mission to build their own alternate media universe. One where the more contentious your opinion is, the better. But with Web3 still in its infancy and not yet reaching mass adoption, the domain may ultimately attract more users drawn to Ye’s celebrity.
Despite a boom in media attention over the past two years, Web3 is still nascent, meaning that red-flagged information is slipping through the net. That goes for trademark scandals, cryptocurrency collapses, rug pulls, and now, uncensored right-wing debate. How Web3 will respond to this move by the self-proclaimed “genius’” is still unclear. But Parler’s CEO, George Farmer, seems optimistic about the future of the platform, announcing in an official statement that he has “complete confidence that Parler, as both a platform and a community, will experience the limitless growth it deserves.”