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Kanye West, Elon Musk and the uncertain promise of a new internet for conservatives

    Kanye West, Elon Musk and the uncertain promise of a new internet for conservatives

    A week ago, Kanye West was temporarily suspended from Twitter for posting antitrust tweets.

    Now, the rapper has agreed to acquire Parlor, an alternative social platform popular with conservatives, to prevent being for fear of being removed from social media again.

    West, who has legally changed his name to Yeh, is the latest controversial figure to bet on a nascent, alternative set of social media platforms that favor conservatives and more far-right members of the mainstream, but content moderation.

    After being banned from Twitter following the January 6 uprising, former President Donald Trump backed Truth Social, an alternative to Twitter. In a slide deck, Trump’s digital media company touted the ambitious prospect of creating alternatives not only for major social media platforms, but for cloud computing products like Amazon Web Services and payments service Stripe.

    Separately, Peter Thiel, an influential venture capitalist and Republican donor, invested in Rumble, a conservative alternative to YouTube. Other services, including Gab and Gator, are also part of what Ben Decker, CEO of digital threat analysis company Memetica, calls an alt social media ecosystem driven by deplatforming data from other large platforms. recent years.

    There are several possible reasons why West a precarious figure known for chaotic business deals wanted to acquire Parlor, a platform that has been home to election denial, anti-Semitism and followers of the conspiracy theory QAnon. He was disappointed that his anti-Semitic comments were removed from Twitter (TWTR) and Instagram and later permanently suspended. West is also friends with conservative political commentator Candace Owens, who has reportedly encouraged the rapper’s political involvement and whose husband is the CEO of the parlor.

    In a statement included with the parlor’s announcement on Monday, West pointed to the need for a separate, safe space for conservatives, a camp with which he identifies. In a world where conservative views are considered controversial, we have to make sure that we have the right to express ourselves freely he said.

    West also discussed his planned parlor takeover with Trump, a source familiar with the conversation told CNN on Monday, though it was unclear whether the two spoke before or after news of the rapper’s acquisition became public.

    But the extent to which it is serious about the acquisition is not very clear, with the West facing a precarious path that poses challenges to other services that promise “free speech.”

    For starters, the audience for these alternative platforms is much smaller than the mainstream services they are competing with. Even though all 40,000 of Parlor’s estimated daily active users follow West on the platform, his audience on Twitter will be less than his 31.4 million, Twitter’s more than 200 million daily active users. not to mention.

    And despite claiming to provide an unrestricted home for Fringe content, some services, including Parlor, have had to make concessions on content moderation on the major app stores. Apple said last year that it approved the return of Parlor to the iOS App Store, following improvements the company made to better detect and control hate speech and provocation, and Google last month Did the same thing.

    Perhaps the biggest wild card of all comes from West’s friend and fellow precocious rich man, Elon Musk. The CEO of billionaire Tesla appears closer than ever with plans to cut his content restrictions on the already established platform, Twitter.

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