RNC gives exclusive live-streaming rights to Trump business associate
Warning: This post contains offensive and potentially triggering language.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has decided to air the first 2024 presidential primary debate on Fox News. It has also decided to grant Rumble, a Canadian online video site, exclusive live-streaming rights to the debate. Working with Rumble removes all doubt about the RNC’s willingness to directly associate with far-right extremists and hate-mongers, including violent neo-Nazis. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel insisted this was a positive move in “getting away from Big Tech”, but providing an avowed hate-filled platform with a path to millions of new viewers is irresponsible and opens yet another door for online radicalization.
Rumble is an online video platform, web hosting, and cloud services business that advertises its video service as a platform “immune to cancel culture.” In reality, it’s where those extremists and bigots, from every part of the world, including the US, who have proven to be too extreme, hateful, or violent, go when the mainstream companies like YouTube finally take action against their content. And unsurprisingly, Rumble was tapped to provide the cloud services for ex-President Trump’s Truth Social platform, after Amazon was deemed politically incompatible. In May 2021, far-right figures Peter Thiel and now-Senator J. D. Vance (R-OH) invested in Rumble. Then, in December 2021, Trump Media & Technology Group announced that it entered a “wide-ranging technology and cloud services agreement” with Rumble.
Rumble Welcomes Vile Extremists
Rumble hosts conspiracy theory mongers like Alex Jones and has signed exclusive deals with far-right commentators Steven Crowder, Donald Trump Jr, Canadian anti-vaxxer Viva Frei, and many other disinformation-peddlers and hateful figures. COVID conspiracy theorists have found a friendly home on Rumble with Awake Canada airing a detailed plan by Marcus Ray and Christopher James to have public officials involved with COVID mandates “arrested, convicted, tried and executed”. Rumble also hosts vile misogynists like Sneako, who aired online a clip of himself pretending to rape a content creator he disgrees with, and the British-American Andrew Tate, who has graphically described how he would assault a woman for accusing him of cheating and been accused of sexual assault. Both migrated to Rumble after being deplatformed from YouTube. And Rumble now hosts Joseph Nicolosi, Jr. and his ‘Reintegrative Therapy’ videos depicting ‘therapy’ sessions of LGBTQ+ clients ‘turning straight’. GPAHE’s own research provided the documentation for Nicolosi’s removal from YouTube. The practice of trying to change one’s orientation or identity has been called torture by the UN, and its promotion is banned on YouTube.
And then there’s the openly white supremacist, antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+, and neo-Nazi content that thrives on Rumble. Austrian Martin Sellner, the de facto leader of the international white supremacist network Generation Identity (GI), has videos there. Sellner and GI served as an inspiration for the shooter who murdered 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, which in turn has inspired mass attacks on Latinos, Jews, and Black people. Sellner was removed from YouTube after GPAHE exposed his presence on the platform. And, an account named after prominent Australian neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell contains videos of Sewell spewing antisemitic conspiracies. Another channel, watertime, posts multiple videos of Sewell Seig heiling and saying things like “the future of our people is not negotiable. Hail victory, you sodomite faggots.” It’s also the title of the video. Neo-Nazis like Sewell and Sellner have been banned from multiple social media sites and have been the perpetrators of violent attacks and inspiration for neo-Nazis around the world, and yet, they’re welcome on Rumble.
Extremists earn money on their videos
Most shocking, almost all these videos are monetized. Most of the ads seen by GPAHE researchers were little known companies and almost exclusively appealed to male audiences. A significant exception is Donald Trump’s fundraising and campaign ads. His ads appeared several times on openly heinous neo-Nazi content from Thomas Sewell. This is not the first time Trump has been found to have ads on racist content. GPAHE exposed how YouTube was placing ads from Trump and Biden on white supremacist Generation Identity content during the 2020 presidential race.
Rumble’s Terms and Conditions include clear rules prohibiting content which “promotes, supports, or incites” violence, unlawful acts, and individuals/groups which conduct violence or unlawful acts. It also claims to prohibit content including “racism, antisemitism and hatred”. It is absolutely clear, though, that Rumble has no intention of enforcing these rules. Extremists worldwide are able to spread their propaganda, incitement to violence, and hate speech without fear of reprisals. Instead, it’s more likely that the rules are in place to qualify for the Apple and Google Play app stores. (Apple and Google would do well to reconsider whether this app belongs in their stores.) Lack of access to these distribution systems would be a devastating blow to Rumble’s business.
With their decision to force viewers onto Rumble in order to participate in the electoral process, the RNC has made it abundantly clear that they believe their political base is fine with extreme misogynists, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, violent extremists, and neo-Nazis. This is a platform with an international network of far-right figures and a widely unenforced content moderation policy. Considering the debate viewership, Rumble is likely to see marked user growth as it did during the pandemic, users who are vulnerable to far-right extremist material and to radicalization.