On March 28, Jeremy Peters of The New York Times reported on the ambitions of Rumble — a video-sharing platform that has cast itself as a conservative alternative to YouTube. New Media Matters data shows that Rumble’s success is due, in part, to mainstream platforms like Facebook allowing users to share videos from and promote the alternative platform, where users can post harmful content with impunity.
From the Times report (emphasis added):
Over the last week, as Republicans opened a misleading attack on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as too lenient with criminals who sexually abuse children, Red Pill News and the X22 Report posted videos claiming that her nomination to the Supreme Court by President Biden was all the proof anyone needed that a cabal of pedophiles operated at the highest levels of the government, a belief QAnon adherents hold.
“Think about the bigger picture,” the host of the X22 Report, which has more than half a million Rumble subscribers, implored his viewers in an episode posted on Wednesday. “Right now, people are being taught about pedophilia. People are listening to this, and they’re seeing exactly how these people think and how they’re trying to normalize it.”
In one day, that episode was viewed almost 220,000 times on Rumble, which has experienced explosive growth since conservatives and supporters of former President Donald J. Trump embraced it after the 2020 election. Its users and financial backers see it as the new frontier in social media — a network built by and for them, where virtually anything goes.
“There is something very significant about Rumble that I don’t think people appreciate,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, the liberal media watchdog. Mr. Carusone said the painstaking work that went into persuading Facebook, Google and Twitter to be more aggressive about policing fake and inciting content prevented a lot of it from breaking through to a wider audience.
“Rumble basically changes that game,” he added.
In other words, content that has been moderated on mainstream platforms like Facebook can be shared on Rumble with impunity. And as Peters notes, there is a “large audience to be had” by alternative platforms like Rumble — an audience whose members have been convinced by right-wing politicians and media personalities that they are being targeted and censored on Facebook. (Media Matters and others have repeatedly debunked the claims that conservatives are being censored.)
But these same right-wing figures have large followings on Facebook and use their pages to promote alternative platforms like Rumble. For instance, Fox host Dan Bongino, who has an equity stake in Rumble, still promotes false and sensational content to his nearly 5 million followers on Facebook. In fact, in the last month, Bongino has posted Rumble links on Facebook over 400 times, earning over 5.7 million interactions on the posts. His show’s page, Bongino Report, has shared roughly another 400 links from Rumble, earning nearly 500,000 more interactions.
According to data compiled from CrowdTangle, Facebook users have shared Rumble links more than 16,000 times in the last month, collectively earning more than 11 million interactions. Four of the pages sharing these links are Rumble’s official pages — Rumble, Rumble Dogs, Rumble Cats, and Rumble Babies & Kids. Other pages frequently sharing Rumble links include those of right-wing figures and outlets including Charlie Kirk, Trending World by The Epoch Times, Patriot News Outlet, NTD Life, One America News Network, and Brian Kilmeade.
Facebook groups also contribute to the spread of Rumble links. For instance, the X22 Report video mentioned by the Times article primarily spread in private, pro-Trump Facebook groups, according to Media Matters’ findings.