The second Republican presidential debate will be broadcast Wednesday on Fox Business Network and Univision, but the exclusive online livestream will take place on Rumble, an alternative video-sharing platform that has been criticized for allowing— and at times promoting — far-right extremism, bigotry, election disinformation and conspiracy theories.
By bringing viewers to Rumble to watch the GOP debate, as it did with the first one last month, the Republican National Committee is driving potential voters to a site crawling with content that flouts the rules of more mainstream ones such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Earlier this year, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said using Rumble instead of YouTube as its livestreaming partner was a decision aimed toward ” getting away from Big Tech.”
Asked about the criticism against the platform, the RNC said in an emailed statement that “hate, bigotry and violence is unfortunately prevalent on every social media platform, and the RNC condemns it entirely, but the RNC does not manage content or pages outside of our own.”
Rumble, founded in 2013, prides itself on being “immune to cancel culture.” Its website says “everyone benefits when we have access to more ideas, diverse opinions, and dialogue.”
That approach has catapulted the site to popularity in recent years as many conservatives have sought alternative social media companies that won’t remove their posts or suspend their accounts for false or inflammatory content. The company, which went public in 2022, has been backed by conservative donors such as venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio.
It has grown to average 44 million active users per month, according to its most recent quarterly filing. By comparison, its closest mainstream cousin, the Google-owned video service YouTube, has billions of monthly logged-in users, a spokesperson said.
It’s hard to gauge to what extent the debates have affected Rumble’s user base because the company hasn’t released that data yet. But it’s clear the company’s reach is growing. Desktop and mobile web data from the research firm Similarweb, which doesn’t include traffic from apps, shows the platform had about double the number of unique visitors in August 2023 as it did the year before.
Rumble’s web traffic also is consistently much higher than that of other right-wing social media platforms, such as Truth Social, Gab, or Gettr, according to Similarweb’s analysis.