By Lottie Kilraine, Content Producer
Comedian Russell Brand is facing a myriad of allegations of rape, sexual assault, and emotional abuse from several women.
The claims have sparked investigations not just by the Metropolitan Police, but also his ex-employers, including Channel 4 and the BBC, and prompted YouTube to demonetised his videos.
Brand is yet to be removed or censored by alternative video platform Rumble, a site that attracts creators who tend to subscribe to more right-wing views.
However, the accusations have prompted some companies, such as Burger King, to pause advertising on Brand's channel 'while investigations into the allegations are ongoing'.
What is Rumble?
Compared to similar sites, Rumble is still quite small and not long out of its infancy.
Founded in 2013 by Canadian technology entrepreneur, Chris Pavlovski, the site is self-described as an online video platform, web hosting and cloud services business.
It's layout is similar to the US video giant YouTube, which launched in 2005, but the two platforms have very different approaches when it comes to monetisation, algorithms and user content restrictions.
Rumble has marketed itself as an "open platform" where content creators are invited to “speak their truth” without fear of censorship or hate speech.
As a result, many of YouTube’s more right-wing users have moved their content to the platform, including controversial influencer Andrew Tate, political commentator Ben Shapiro, and former US President Donald Trump.
The website, which prides itself on being "immune to cancel culture", has a range of video categories including science, music, entertainment, sports, cooking, gaming, news and 'viral'.
According to the terms and conditions, Rumble forbids pornography, harassment, racism, antisemitism, and copyright infringement.
Since November 2022, it has been banned in France after the platform refused to give in to the country’s demand for the site to remove Russian state media accounts following the invasion of Ukraine.
Just this week, ex-Fox News presenter Dan Bongino urged his social media followers to watch Brand's videos on the site, writing: “Join Rumble today. Russell is already there.”
Prior to the recent allegations, Brand had made a name for himself online with his videos urging his followers to "stay free" as he interviewed guests and discussed news stories, including alleged misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic as an outspoken sceptic of the vaccine.
His following sits at 6.6 million subscribers on YouTube, 11.2 million followers on X (formerly Twitter), 1.4 million followers on Rumble, and 3.8 million followers on Instagram.
Introducing his show, Brand's Rumble channel reads: "Everybody knows that the old ideas won’t help us. Religion is dead. Capitalism is dead. Communism is dead. Where will the answers of the next century lie? Particularly, when we’re facing a mental health epidemic and ecological melt down."
Last year, one of his videos was taken down on YouTube over the site’s policy on Covid-19 disinformation, which prompted Brand to move to Rumble.
How do users like Russell Brand make money?
YouTube is central to Brand’s earning ability, allowing him to earn money each time someone watches one of his videos and sees the adverts that appear within and alongside them.
One social media expert told The Guardian they estimate Brand is “likely making £2,000 to £4,000 per video”, not including any affiliate deals or brand sponsorships that may also be running in the background.
However when it comes to monetisation, Rumble and YouTube have different approaches.
On Rumble, monetisation is enabled by default for all users as soon as they upload their videos - unlike YouTube, which has specific requirements or restrictions on how much watch time is needed in order to start earning.
Brand had been posting videos daily to his Rumble and YouTube accounts – potentially earning thousands each month – often tapping into conspiracy theories and anti-establishment narratives and regularly receiving hundreds of thousands of views.
As a result, the demonetisation of Brand’s YouTube account is likely to have a significant impact on his earning potential, but he will still be earning money through his Rumble posts.
How have advertisers reacted to the abuse allegations?
On Friday, it emerged that Burger King had become one of the first companies to pause advertising on Rumble in a bid to distance themselves from Brand and the claims against him.
A spokesperson for the fast food chain told ITV News: "Burger King has paused all advertising on the channel while investigations into the allegations are ongoing."
It follows statements from both YouTube and podcasting platform Acast, where Brand's Under The Skin podcast appears, that he will not make money from advertisements on their sites and apps - but his content has not yet been removed.
According to Companies House, Brand has also resigned as a director of both performing arts business One Arm Bandit and filming company Mayfair Film Partnership.
Will Rumble ever remove Russell Brand?
The short answer is probably not.
Brand still has a presence on the video platform but is yet to post any new episodes following the allegations over the weekend.
His most recent video is a short clip from Friday denying the claims but admitting that he has been “promiscuous” in the past but insisting that all of his relationships have been “consensual”.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, wrote to Rumble on Tuesday to say she was "concerned" that Brand could profit from the host of content he posts.
The move prompted the firm to release a statement that "emphatically rejected" her concerns, branding the letter from Dame Caroline as "disturbing," and adding that the site refuses to "join a cancel culture mob".
The statement finishes: "Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company's values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament's demands."
Brand has strongly denied all the allegations.
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