Like most living, breathing people on this Earth with a smartphone, I have long enjoyed access to YouTube for various content. From funny videos and political commentary to how-to videos, and upcoming movie previews, it has been this family’s go-to when a simple Google search won’t do.
However, when one of my favorite YouTube channels was censored and opted to move to its competitor Rumble, I found I watch YouTube less and less.
Here’s a good example of why I find myself more and more on Rumble: the free speech champions refused to bend the knee to the French government’s demands for censorship.
Rumble’s very public response to the French leadership has now placed it in Boss Status along with the likes of Elon Musk and Governor Ron DeSantis.
An update on our services in France pic.twitter.com/GpcytLqjrY
— Rumble – 🏴☠️ $RUM (@rumblevideo) November 1, 2022
That Had To Hurt
There is a general expectation that media and technology organizations do not publish or broadcast Russian-backed media under the argument that to do so is to “support” and elevate Russian propaganda and misinformation.
Rumble explained in an epic Tweet that:
“Recently, the French government demanded that we remove certain Russian news sources from Rumble.”
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Unlike its Big Tech competitors like YouTube and Facebook, Rumble has decided not to accquiesce to France’s request, stating simply:
“Users with unpopular views are free to access our platform on the same terms as our millions of other users.”
While Rumble argues the legality with the French government over their request, they have decided to “disable access to Rumble for users in France,” and here comes the best part:
“This decision will not have a material effect on our business, as France represents less than one percent of our users.”
Ouch! It’s okay, President Macron; get yourself a cafe au lait and croissant. You’ll start to feel better, I promise.
Rumble will turn off France entirely (France isn’t material to us) and we will challenge the legality of this demand. https://t.co/a4Nn4S1MMf
— Chris Pavlovski (@chrispavlovski) November 1, 2022
In many ways, the fear the left has of Rumble is the same fear they have of Elon Musk and his takeover of Twitter. Rumble Chief Executive Chris Pavlovski and new Twitter owner Elon Musk have similar thought processes of what their platforms should and shouldn’t allow.
The mission of Rumble is “to protect a free and open internet,” and the CEO has often claimed that his platform is “immune to cancel culture.”
So it’s no wonder the video content platform has increased interest for viewers of all stripes who are tired of Big Government and Big Tech deciding what they can and can’t consume from the internet.
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As Mr. Pavlovski has said, and which also explains their refusal to take down Russian media sites:
“We are a movement that does not stifle, censor, or punish creativity.”
That’s quite a different stance towards content moderation than Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, which have actively worked with the Department of Homeland Security and FBI to decide what content is allowed and what isn’t.
Think how important this story is. France, like all EU states, *legally barred* any platform from airing RT or other Russian outlets even if those platforms with to. It’s legally required to censor it.
France demanded Rumble obey, if though Rumble isn’t a French company…. https://t.co/4sbdWwPmaF
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 1, 2022
Broadening Its Palette
If you read any article from any source, Rumble will likely be described as a haven for right-wing extremists and “Qanon” conspiracy theorists. While Mr. Pavlovski claims he never intended for the site to be a conservative platform, there seem to be many conservatives.
Former President Donald Trump has been a supporter; Dan Bongino is very active on the site. He is often viewed as the new Rush Limbaugh, and One America News broadcasts on Rumble. In full disclosure, so do we at The Political Insider.
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This year Rumble has been clocking about 44 million monthly visitors, surpassing other conservative media like Breitbart, Newsmax, and The Daily Wire. Mr. Pavlovski claims:
“There is no ideology here. If anything, we’re just neutral.”
And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that should be the standard in a country where free speech is protected. That’s the whole point.
About a month ago, an individual not known as a conservative but more thought of as progressive in his beliefs migrated from YouTube to Rumble; Russell Brand.
For those unfamiliar, Russell Brand is an actor, spiritualist, and recovering addict who opines on various political and social issues, from healthcare, political corruption, marriage equality, and progressive criminal justice reform.
He’s hardly the poster child for right-wing ultra-MAGA types, yet he’s on Rumble. But the question is, why?
Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint.
Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2022
Russell Brand, who still has a footprint on YouTube, had stated on one of his YouTube broadcasts that the National Institution of Health had added Ivermectin as COVID treatment when they were “trialing” the drug for treatment. Once Mr. Brand was aware of his accidental error, he issued a correction and an apology.
However, that was not enough for the YouTube watchdogs who issued him his, as he quoted, “one-lifetime warning.” Interestingly, Mr. Brand pointed out that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow had said in a YouTube video that was still on the site:
“The virus stops with every vaccination.”
Pointing out that we all know that isn’t true, he asks a great question that we all know the answer to:
“Is there one standard for independent channels…and another for the mainstream media?”
In his announcement that he would start broadcasting on Rumble, Mr. Brand said:
“I support and love all of you. If you love Donald Trump, I love you. If you love Joe Biden, I love you. I want us to create new systems together and I don’t believe these institutionalized systems in the financial, government, or media worlds are ever going to serve ordinary people. I believe we’re at a point of crisis, and things need to radically change, fast. And I believe we’ll be able to communicate our message more freely on Rumble.”
Setting An Example
Rumble’s refusal to remove Russian media from its platform should not be controversial. Allegedly we live in a plural society where we accept that there are those with different viewpoints than our own, and we tout our greatness in our ability to tolerate being in the same space as those different viewpoints.
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Four shows, in particular, have a home on Rumble from the Russian Sputnik news agency; ‘Fault Lines,’ ‘Political Misfits,’ ‘By Any Means Necessary, and ‘The Backstory.’
When ‘By Any Means Necessary’ was blocked from YouTube, they tweeted a screenshot of the notice and:
“This is what ‘Democracy’ looks like in the US, folks.”
RT News, which is an English speaking 24/7 Russian news channel, issued the following statement regarding their bans:
“These bans are quintessential corporate censorship in cahoots with the government’s political agenda, our voice is being blocked not for what we say but for who we are.”
There was a time that I can remember it was considered poor form to watch Al-Jazeera, and now it’s almost considered mainstream media. I don’t support the Russian government’s invasion and the atrocities they’ve committed in Ukraine.
But I also know that you don’t prove your view is better than another by silencing the counterargument. Instead, you fight against unpopular opinions and those that boil your blood by countering them with your argument in the same space.
Rumble and Twitter will soon set the example that the rest of us should follow.
Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
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