Popular far-right video-sharing platform Rumble is riddled with election misinformation, study finds

Election disinformation thrives on Rumble, a video-sharing platform popular with some conservatives and far-right groups, according to research released Thursday.

Nearly half of the videos suggested by the site in response to searches for common election-related terms contained misinformation, according to analysis by NewsGuard, a firm that monitors online misinformation.

The percentage was much better at Rumble’s much bigger rival, YouTube, where around 1 in 5 videos were found to contain misinformation after researchers performed the same searches. Search terms included candidate names as well as politically sensitive words and phrases such as gun rights, voter fraud and abortion.

The findings illustrate how alternative platforms like Rumble have become hotspots for election-related misinformation as they grow in popularity. The site is popular with conservatives and some far-right groups critical of content moderation efforts by larger platforms such as YouTube.

Misleading or misleading claims about voting and elections have proliferated ahead of next week’s election and have been accused of increasing mistrust and polarization.

Some of the videos reviewed by NewsGuard researchers in October included online broadcasts featuring allies of former President Donald Trump such as Steve Bannon and conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones. Many of the videos contained debunked claims about the 2020 election, the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as misinformation about voting and elections.

“Rumble frequently pushes videos from unreliable sources that traffic in election disinformation,” the NewsGuard report revealed.

Messages left with Rumble were not immediately returned on Wednesday and Thursday. According to a mission statement on the platform’s website, Rumble aims to “restore the internet to its roots by making it free and open again.”

Rumble said in September that it now has 78 million active monthly users worldwide, including 63 million in the United States and Canada. The site has a long list of podcasts led by prominent curators such as Don Bongino and Steve Bannon, whose videos have millions of subscribers on Rumble.

Growth for the Florida-based platform has come from users interested in news and politics, as well as younger users in the 18-24 age bracket, Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski said. in September.

Bannon’s show was among the top results when researchers searched for the term “voter fraud.” A longtime Trump ally, Bannon was kicked out of YouTube last year for repeatedly breaking its rules; he was banned from Twitter after demanding the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert.

Combined, the disinformation-laden videos revealed by NewsGuard researchers have been viewed nearly 9 million times so far.

YouTube has been criticized for not doing enough to tackle misinformation on its platform. But NewsGuard’s report shows that the platform’s efforts are making a difference. The researchers said that in addition to suggesting fewer videos with misinformation, YouTube does not recommend any videos that support QAnon.

Nonetheless, a report released this fall by New York University blamed Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for amplifying Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. The study cited inconsistent rules regarding misinformation as well as a bad application.

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Shirley K. Rosa