Free speech-centric YouTube alternative Rumble just scored its biggest verified member — former President Donald Trump.
According to Reuters, Trump announced he was joining the platform on Saturday, hours before he took the stage for his first campaign-style rally event since leaving office. Trump’s verified account was confirmed by Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski.
“It is a great way to reach the American people in a time of unprecedented assault on free speech in our country by Big Tech tyrants,” Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington told Reuters in an email.
The move came after Trump was banned from other mainstream social media platforms, including Google’s YouTube, in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion. At least on YouTube, he remains banned indefinitely.
Harrington said the decision to join Rumble was made independently of the former president’s announced plans to set up his own platform rather than as a replacement outlet.
Several people in Trump’s circle — including Donald Trump Jr. and former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino — announced Trump’s move to the platform on Twitter ahead of his rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 26, 2021
— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) June 26, 2021
Trump’s account on the platform — which can be accessed by clicking this link — had more than 300,000 subscribers as of Monday morning, and his speech in Wellington had drawn over 800,000 views and 63,000 “rumbles,” the platform’s version of likes.
The speech, given in support of House candidate and former White House aide Max Miller — a primary challenger to GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, according to Fox News — was also streamed on YouTube, albeit mostly by local outlets.
While not having anywhere near the user base of YouTube at the moment — 2.1 billion for YouTube vs. 31.9 million for Rumble — the video sharing platform has seen what Pavlovski termed “tremendous growth,” according to Fox Business.
“My goal is to keep it as fair as possible. We’re not interested in taking any position on any type of content, we just want to be a platform, and I believe that’s why we’ve seen so much growth,” Pavlovski said in an April interview.
He said Rumble “hasn’t moved the goal posts on our [content moderation] policies — we’ve stuck to our core policies we started with in 2013.”
The platform, which has become a haven for conservative content creators, has several high-profile right-leaning investors, including billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.
Perhaps none is so well-known, however, as conservative pundit Dan Bongino, who acquired an equity stake in the company last September, according to the Daily Caller.
He’s also one of several big conservative names producing content on the platform, including author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, viral video superstars Diamond and Silk, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes and investigative journalist John Solomon.
The tenor of coverage this has produced can best be described as predictable.
Take this paragraph from a BuzzFeed News article in November: “Rumble employs 12 people in its Toronto office, as well as relying on workers from Cosmic Development, an outsourcing company Pavlovski founded in North Macedonia, the country that in 2016 was home to more than 100 pro-Trump sites that earned money by spreading false stories. Pavlovski, whose parents and grandparents immigrated to Canada from North Macedonia, said he had nothing to do with those kinds of sites.” [Emphasis ours.]
Or take this quote from Harvard Law School lecturer evelyn douek (her stylization): “If Rumble doesn’t want to be a haven for hate speech or harmful health misinformation or upset its user base and genuinely wants to moderate responsibly, it needs to think ahead about how it’s going to draw lines and, just as importantly, how it’s going to clearly communicate those lines to its users,” she told BuzzFeed News. “These decisions can be genuinely hard.”
Or take Vice, which said Rumble “is becoming part of a right-wing echo chamber that helps amplify and reinforce the beliefs its users hold.” (As opposed to YouTube, a left-wing echo chamber that cultivates and amplifies the beliefs it wants its users to hold.)
That sort of loaded language, which assumes vigorous moderation — if not outright censorship — of views the media holds to be unpleasant is the only sound and acceptable way for a social media platform to operate, is going to get a lot more heated over the next few days as hands are wrung and garments are rended.
For now, one assumes that’s fine with Rumble — particularly since it has become the primary social media outlet for former President Trump.