YouTube's repeated censoring of conservatives and alternative viewpoints has led to a surge in growth for upstart rival, Rumble. Rumble has been around since 2013, but since last year has seen an influx of new users and new money from powerful investors. "Rumble is an alternative," says Kara Frederick, research fellow in technology policy for the Heritage Foundation. "It's basically the alternative to YouTube."
Rumble's owners are committed to allowing free speech and free expression, which has attracted conservatives and others tired of YouTube's heavy-handed content control tactics. The owners also want to avoid what happened to the social media site Parler, which saw a surge of growth last winter after President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and Twitter, only to be taken offline by Amazon's web hosting service. "Rumble is saying in the future, they want to develop their own cloud hosting services," says Frederick. "So they want to be able to be hosted by themselves essentially, and not risk being shut off like in the case of Parler with Amazon Web Services."
Rumble will need all the help it can get, since YouTube's owner Google controls more than 90% of the online search market. To that end, Rumble is suing Google in federal court for antitrust violations. Despite the long odds, Frederick thinks this is a fight worth having for sites like Rumble. "They certainly have an uphill battle, but I think these alternative platforms can, at the very least, provide safe harbor for freedom of expression right now," she says. "I think that conservatives and people who believe in decentralization and technical solutions, have to try and develop them."
"Conservatives, I think, can win free speech battles in part on the merits of innovation," she says. "So you have to try."