Talking was gloating about Kanye West buying it. Then the problems started.

“President [Kelli] Ward is not active on Parler and has not opened the app in over 2 years,” said Kristy Dohnel, spokesperson for the Arizona Republican Party. “We have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The episode and the confusion that followed – a company spokesperson declined to answer questions about the identity of the list and the criteria behind it – created a puzzle for Talking about during what should have been a party time. Since its inception in 2018, the site has attempted to position itself as a champion of free speech, recruiting Donald Trump cronies and conservative luminaries with the promise of being the quintessential social media counterweight to Facebook and Twitter. .

But the inadvertent email raises questions about the true extent of Parler’s influence as Ye prepares to buy him, given that the VIP list included generic media addresses and some that were old or disappeared. It also provides a window into the often chaotic nature of the conservative media ecosystem, where a variety of different platforms compete for audience share and industry dominance by catering to a select group of conservative figures. influential and by relaxing editorial safeguards.

Parler’s platform has become a haven for far-right posters and antisemitic content. In early 2021, it was banned from Apple and Google stores after the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, and in order to come backthe application has changed the moderation of its content.

But he struggles to build an audience. According to Similarweb, an analytics firm specializing in web traffic and performance, Parler’s rankings against other platforms popular with curators have declined over time. It had just over 1.2 million visits in September, against GETTR, with over 7.1 million visits, Trump’s Truth Social, with over 8.9 million visits, and another conservative site, Gab, with more than 12.8 million visits.

A Parler spokesperson said the site had about 16 million registered users before the announcement of Ye’s purchase. But according to data analytics firm Apptopia, it only has 40,000 daily active users. It has nothing to do with Twitter’s 237 million daily active users, according to the company. latest earnings report.

Eric Wilson, managing partner of Startup Caucus, a Republican campaign technology investment fund, said the problem Parler faced was not unique to that platform. Sites built around political communities generally struggle to create the so-called “network effect” that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have built. This is because the vast majority of social media users do not go to the platforms to discuss politics. “And so these concentrated networks of people who want to talk politics are essentially creating a choir room,” Wilson said.

“This idea of ​​a purely conservative political social media network is not going to take off,” he added. “And I want these entrepreneurs and investors to invest their money in more efficient projects.”

Part of what has contributed to his audience’s shared woes is that Talking lacks the star power and userbase that Trump and his family bring to the platforms. Trump did not join Parler, although Ye was in interviews with former president about doing it.

In Trump’s absence, there is hope that Ye himself can play the starring role. An account for the rapper – who is currently engulfed in his own scandal for a series of antisemitic remarks which resulted in his suspension from Twitter and Instagram — appeared on Talk Monday. As of Thursday, he had over 29,000 users following him. It was a tiny fraction of his 31 million Twitter followers. He sent his first “speak” on Wednesday afternoon, quoting a Bible verse saying, “Romans 8:31: ‘What shall we say then of these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He then posted a video of a “2024” hat, hinting at a possible presidential race.

A person familiar with Parler’s business said the company has been looking for a buyer since it announced it had acquired cloud service provider Dynascaleand that it was creating a new parent company, Parliament Technologies, Inc., and focusing on cloud technology.

“Parliament has always explored strategic opportunities for all of its brands and continues to do so,” a company spokesperson said.

When the announcement of Ye’s acquisition plans was made, Parler’s outreach team sent the VIP email under the subject line “Ye + Parler”.

The list of recipients included a number of emails whose identity was impossible to know. But it also included emails for MAGA media stars like Charlie Kirk and Jack Posobiec; Trump world figures like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Brad Parscale and Dan Scavino; and other names including Eduardo Bolsonaro, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, Michael Flynn, Dan Bongino and Dana Loesch. POLITICO solicited comments from these people. Flynn’s email bounced.

Also on the list were GOP lawmakers, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y. ) and the generic press email addresses of many other members of Congress.

The text of the email described the recipients as having “gold badge accounts” and informed them of Ye’s plans to buy Parliament Technologies. The outreach team assured recipients that “Parler’s primary mission will remain the same” and pledged to keep the lines of communication open.

“As a gold badged account, you will always communicate with the same Outreach team. Our VIPs are an invaluable part of the Parler family and experience,” reads the email, signed by three members of Parler’s Outreach Team “We appreciate all of your support and partnership in the fight for free speech, and we look forward to your involvement in this monumental new chapter.”

But the outreach team forgot to hide the list of recipients; or, at least, a full version of it (the email obtained by POLITICO was alphabetical and only included recipients up to the letter J). By late Monday, the email had been passed around conservative circles. The daily caller also reported on the VIP list.

Many of the names included in the email have operational Parler accounts, including Kirk and Trump superfans Diamond and Silk. Others appear to have joined the site for research or muckraking purposes, including MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.

When told they were Parler VIPs, several people on the email recipient list expressed surprise.

“I worked with and was approached by Parler before my 2020 election. I was given a badge because I worked in the media and they wanted to confirm that my account was the official account [account] to avoid impersonation accounts,” said Anna Paulina Luna, Republican candidate for Congress from Florida. “I don’t know the email you have, but I haven’t spoken to anyone at the organization for a few years as I prefer instagram as my primary means of communication and didn’t like the interface of Parler .”

One of the Republicans whose email was on the list said a representative from Parler approached them at an event, urging them to use the platform more and informing them that they had status. VIP with them. “Next thing I know I get an email saying, ‘Oops, sorry. we have forwarded your email to everyone on our list,” the person said.

This was just one of many public relations issues that Parler faced after the company announced Ye’s acquisition. On Tuesday, its CEO George Farmer declined the Fox Business presenter’s repeated efforts Stuart Varney to comment on whether or not the platform would allow Ye to make anti-Semitic comments on the platform, saying that Ye would ultimately be the “controller” once the deal is done.

Farmer told the Wall Street Journal the conversation with Ye to buy the platform began during Paris Fashion Week when his wife, conservative commentator and influencer Candace Owens, appeared with the rapper wearing controversial “White Lives Matter” T-shirts. The Anti-Defamation League called the slogan a “white supremacist phrase” that was created as a “racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

“Ye is not only a music and apparel titan, but he, like Parler, has faced senseless and unnecessary censorship and cancellation by Big Tech. He shares Parler’s passion for freedom of movement. ‘expression and independent thought,” Farmer said in a statement to users on Monday. “Speaking will remain a place where everyone can think, listen and speak freely. We will continue the fight against censorship, the cancellation of culture and the authoritarianism.

Olivia Beavers contributed reporting.


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