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GOP Debate’s Online Streaming Partner, Rumble, Faces Scrutiny for Hosting Controversial Content

by Andrew Wright
8 comments
Rumble GOP Debate Controversy

The forthcoming Republican presidential debate is set to air this Wednesday on Fox Business Network and Univision. However, the sole platform for its online livestream will be Rumble, an alternative video-sharing website that has come under fire for enabling and at times amplifying extreme right-wing ideologies, misinformation related to elections, and conspiracy theories.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has once again chosen Rumble for its debate livestream, directing prospective voters to a platform that has been criticized for hosting content that violates the guidelines of more established social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel previously justified the choice of Rumble over YouTube for livestreaming as a move towards “distancing from Big Tech.” In an official statement responding to criticisms of the platform, the RNC argued that all social media platforms suffer from issues of hate speech and violence, emphasizing that the RNC does not have control over content beyond its own pages.

Founded in 2013, Rumble positions itself as a haven against “cancel culture,” promoting the free exchange of diverse ideas and dialogue. This has made the platform increasingly popular among conservatives who seek alternatives to mainstream social media platforms that enforce stricter content guidelines. Financially backed by conservative figures like venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Republican Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, Rumble went public in 2022 and currently boasts an average of 44 million active monthly users.

Although lacking the user numbers of its mainstream counterpart YouTube, data from the research firm Similarweb indicates that Rumble has seen significant growth, with unique visitor numbers in August 2023 nearly doubling from the previous year. In terms of web traffic, Rumble consistently outperforms other alternative conservative social media sites like Truth Social, Gab, and Gettr.

Prominent politicians have also begun to engage with the platform. Several Republican presidential primary candidates, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and current front-runner Donald Trump have posted campaign content on Rumble. Democratic challenger and vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. maintains a profile on the site as well.

However, as Rumble gains influence, it remains plagued by content that challenges the legitimacy of the 2020 election, disseminates discriminatory views, and propagates harmful conspiracy theories. The site’s most popular content frequently features accounts promoting QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory linked to violent incidents.

In addition, an investigation by NewsGuard found that Rumble often recommends videos from unreliable sources when users search for election-related topics. In a statement, Rumble’s press team clarified that the platform does not produce or endorse content and that its leaderboard rankings are generated based on recent video likes.

While YouTube and Meta have implemented measures to combat election-related misinformation, critics say Rumble has been less proactive in this area and has also been sluggish in responding to hate speech and calls for violence.

In the recent past, comments featuring racial slurs appeared on the live feed for the GOP’s official pre-show on Rumble, which was subsequently hidden from public view. Additionally, violent and hateful comments have been associated with Donald Trump’s campaign videos on the platform. In response to inquiries, Rumble stated that such comments were removed as they violated the site’s policies against incitement to violence and other forms of hate speech.

Jared Holt, senior research analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, suggests that while it’s not clear whether Rumble has more controversial content than other platforms like YouTube, it does appear to be a more attractive space for creators of such content.

The RNC has not confirmed future collaborations with Rumble, but Holt believes that the existing partnership lends the platform an air of legitimacy, directing more users to a space where they are more likely to encounter extremist and misleading content with little to balance or correct it.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rumble GOP Debate Controversy

What is the platform chosen for the exclusive online livestream of the upcoming Republican presidential debate?

The Republican National Committee has chosen Rumble as the exclusive platform for online livestreaming of the forthcoming Republican presidential debate.

Who are the major financial backers of Rumble?

Rumble is financially supported by conservative figures such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Republican Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio.

How has Rumble justified its content policies?

Rumble claims that it is a platform that does not create or endorse content, likening itself to other social media platforms that host a variety of user-generated content. It also positions itself as a haven against “cancel culture.”

What kind of content is frequently found on Rumble?

Rumble frequently hosts content that challenges the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, propagates discriminatory views, and features harmful conspiracy theories, including QAnon.

How does Rumble compare with other social media platforms in terms of user numbers?

As of its latest quarterly filing, Rumble averages 44 million active monthly users. By contrast, YouTube, its closest mainstream counterpart, has billions of monthly logged-in users.

How has the Republican National Committee responded to criticisms about using Rumble for its debates?

The RNC has stated that issues of hate speech, violence, and bigotry are unfortunately prevalent on all social media platforms. It emphasizes that it does not manage content or pages outside of its own official ones.

What measures have YouTube and Meta implemented against election-related misinformation?

YouTube has stated that it will continue to remove content that seeks to deceive voters in the 2024 elections. Meta has rolled back some of its safeguards against election misinformation but has maintained several initiatives like its third-party fact-checking program.

Has Rumble’s user base been affected by hosting the GOP debates?

It’s difficult to determine the direct impact of the debates on Rumble’s user base, as the company has not released that specific data. However, the platform has seen a significant increase in unique visitors year-over-year.

What are some politicians who have used Rumble for campaign purposes?

Notable politicians who have posted campaign content on Rumble include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Republican front-runner Donald Trump, and Democratic challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

How does Rumble fare in comparison to other right-wing social media platforms?

According to Similarweb’s analysis, Rumble’s web traffic consistently outperforms that of other alternative conservative social media sites like Truth Social, Gab, and Gettr.

More about Rumble GOP Debate Controversy

  • Rumble Official Website
  • Republican National Committee Official Statement
  • Rumble Quarterly Filing
  • YouTube’s Content Policy
  • Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program
  • Similarweb Research on Rumble
  • Institute for Strategic Dialogue Report on Online Hate
  • NewsGuard Analysis on Online Misinformation
  • AP’s Democracy Initiative
  • Report on Peter Thiel’s Investments

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8 comments

TechGuru September 25, 2023 - 6:13 am

Gotta say, Big Tech like YouTube and Facebook have their own share of problems but at least they’re making some effort to combat misinformation. What’s Rumble’s plan?

Reply
MaddieS September 25, 2023 - 10:59 am

That’s concerning. A platform with such content shouldn’t be legitimized by hosting debates. It’s kind of a slippery slope, isn’t it.

Reply
PoliticalJunkie September 25, 2023 - 12:11 pm

Rumble has 44 million active users a month?? Thats not pocket change. Could be a game changer in spreading messages, good or bad.

Reply
DebateWatcher September 25, 2023 - 2:16 pm

Will be interesting to see if this RNC-Rumble partnership lasts. Dont think this is the last we’ll hear bout it.

Reply
CryptoFan21 September 25, 2023 - 2:23 pm

RNC going with Rumble? Hm interesting. wonder how this will play out for ’em in the long term

Reply
ConservativeJoe September 25, 2023 - 5:26 pm

Finally, someone standing up to Big Tech. About time conservatives got a platform where they’re not censored all the time.

Reply
JohnDoe September 25, 2023 - 8:05 pm

Woah, didn’t know Rumble was gettin this much attention. Seems like they’re really capitalizing on the conservative crowd, huh?

Reply
FreeThinker September 25, 2023 - 8:39 pm

“immune to cancel culture” huh? Sounds more like a free pass for spreading disinfo and hate to me.

Reply

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