Kanye West’s Free Speech Purchase Is Nothing To Celebrate

It used to be that newspapers were essential for wealthy thinkers. Now, social media platforms are becoming the trophy asset of choice for powerful individuals who want to see just about anything but free speech, especially if they̵

7;ve been burned by the rules on more established sites. Rapper, American celebrity and businessman Kanye West is the latest to throw his hat in the ring to become a stage boss who insists on “the right to express himself freely”.

According to an announcement made by the firm on Monday, the musician and apparel tycoon, also known as Ye, has agreed to buy Parlor, a relatively small platform that calls itself a ‘microblog’ platform. Calls a free-speech alternative to Twitter. Parlor is recognized as a right-wing network that Apple and Google temporarily closed their App Stores after reports were used to plan the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“In a world where conservative views are considered controversial, we have to ensure that we have the right to express ourselves freely,” Ye said in a press release announcing the deal.

About a week ago, the American rapper was suspended from Twitter and Instagram for anti-Semitic posts, including a tweet. [made unacceptable collective references to “Jewish people”],

He joins a persuasive team of volatile plutocrats who want to host their own free speech playgrounds, where users can post extremist perspectives, conspiracy theories, and more. Elon Musk, currently Twitter Inc., and former US President Donald Trump—who was banned last year for inciting violence on Twitter and Facebook—have created their own platform, Truth Social.

There’s nothing straightforward about any of these deals.

For a start, we don’t know how much you agreed to pay for the parlor, or if it managed to raise enough money for an acquisition. Parlement Technologies, which owns Parlor, said on Monday that it has entered into an “in-principle agreement” with Ye and did not disclose financial terms. Neither the company nor Yeh responded to questions about the deal.

Musk’s Twitter acquisition is hardly a deal. And funding of Trump’s vehicle Truth Social through a blank-check company, which was set to go public for about $1 billion, has also been beset with delays.

If all three deals go through, the internet could just enter uncharted territory, with three platforms controlled by billionaires and one seemingly untamed celebrity. But maybe not. This development is not so unusual when you consider that for more than a century, traditional media has been driven by powerful bosses, from Rupert Murdoch to Ted Turner, with a wide range of crackpot bosses in between.

For example, Henry Ford owned the infamous Dearborn Independent weekly newspaper from 1919 to 1927, which he used to promote shocking anti-Semitic ideas, claiming that a massive Jewish conspiracy would infect America. and were intent on corrupting the Jewish world. Through wars and the stock market. The newspaper had a circulation of approximately 500,000 and was distributed throughout the United States through Ford’s large network of car dealerships.

In Britain, the aristocratic brothers Alfred and Harold Harmsworth started the Daily Mail newspaper in 1896 to publicly appease British imperialism as well as the rise of fascism in Europe—for example—during the 1930s.

While today’s social media owners are focusing on freedom of expression, they may eventually echo their predecessors by pushing a particular agenda with their platform. It won’t be as simple as a punchy editorial in a newspaper, but there are still levers these owners can pull directly from their profiles or from their supporters to amplify the message.

For Trump, that goal is likely to try and get himself re-elected, while for Musk it could mean promoting his own companies via Twitter. Kanye’s crude and bizarre statements about race are everywhere, so it’s unclear what ideas he may be trying to promote through the parlor. A spokesperson for the parlor told me that the site has about 16 million registered users. On Truth Social, Donald Trump has just over 4 million followers.

These figures are much smaller than Twitter, which has more than 230 million active users worldwide, and Facebook, which has about 3 billion. But wealthy bosses who are marginalized by the media can still spell trouble, especially if they allow conspiracy theories to flourish in the form of QAnon. Which will cause tremendous damage.

Parmy Olson is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology.

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