Correction (8/4/23): Ten of the 186 ads we initially identified were listed twice in Meta’s ad library; the article has been corrected to reflect the accurate total, 176.
Meta has profited from ads for Rumble, which is seemingly trying to draw users to its right-wing video-streaming platform with innocuous content — a misleading portrayal of the platform that actually promotes bigoted rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
Since June 5, Rumble has run at least 176 ads on Meta's platforms that contain harmless, wholesome videos about cute and interesting animals, babies, beautiful landscapes, and heartwarming stories.
While Meta provides spend and impressions data in its ad library only for ads that are classified as being related to social issues, elections, or politics – and these ads from Rumble were not given that classification — a Dewey Square analysis of data from Ad Clarity, which tracks online advertising spend, found that Meta has earned at least $10,000 from Rumble’s ads between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.
These ads on Meta with innocuous videos grossly misrepresent Rumble, a platform that has positioned itself as a right-wing alternative to YouTube and attracted extremist figures who falsely claim to be censored by other platforms. In contrast to the wholesome content portrayed in Rumble’s ads, the platform has become known for allowing hateful and extreme content to thrive, including content that overtly promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory. Once users of Meta’s platforms are led to Rumble with the innocuous ads, they are much more likely to find harmful content that is promoted by features like the platform’s leaderboard, editor’s picks, and suggested videos.
Media Matters has tracked Rumble’s Leaderboard, where the platform promotes the most liked videos from the past 24 hours, and found that none of the videos promoted in the platform’s Meta ads have appeared in the leaderboard since February 1. In fact, we found that between February 1 and July 25, 15 of the 20 channels, or 75%, with videos that have appeared most frequently in the leaderboard were right-wing, such as Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, conservative filmmaker and Trump pardon recipient Dinesh D’Souza, former Fox News host Dan Bongino, and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The leaderboard also featured QAnon-promoting channels including X22 Report and Badlands Media.
The platform also promotes content from right-wing creators pushing hateful rhetoric in its “Editors Picks” list, and uses its account on Twitter to promote its exclusive deals with right-wing creators including Bongino, right-wing podcaster Steven Crowder, Donald Trump Jr., and far-right misogynist streamers Sneako, the Fresh & Fit podcast, and Andrew Tate.
Rumble’s advertising is the latest example of Meta profiting from ads directing users to fringe platforms and enabling right-wing outlets and personalities to use seemingly innocuous material as a bridge to more extreme content.