SET TO TUMBLE? I’m an online expert – Russell Brand’s ‘refuge’ platform Rumble may be forced offline under new internet safety laws

AN ONLINE expert says Russell Brand's "refuge" platform Rumble could be forced offline under new safety laws.

The "free speech" website, used by comedian Brand to host his videos, risks being forced out of Britain, it has been suggested.

Russell Brand has posted online videos denying allegations against him

The Canada-based platform has come under scrutiny after being used by Brand to share videos as he denies allegations of rape and sexual assault.

He has been posting daily episodes of his Stay Free programme on Rumble since signing a deal with the website a year ago.

It now faces being regulated by UK media watchdog Ofcom under the new Online Safety Bill, which was approved by Parliament last week and is due to become law next month.

Tougher new rules could prompt Rumble's bosses to stop broadcasting to Britain, a tech expert has now suggested.

The new law says internet firms must prevent children from seeing pornography as well as any material promoting eating disorders, self-harm and suicide.

Violent content and material harmful to health, including misinformation about vaccines, will also be barred.

And platforms will also be told to take down illegal material such as videos inciting violence or race hate.

Former Facebook executive Lord Allan of Hallam told The Times a new crackdown could deter Rumble's management.

He said: "You can’t get out of this by saying, 'I’m a crazy American platform, that’s not OK’, and that somehow you get a free pass - they don’t get a free pass.

"Their whole philosophy is freedom of expression, a kind of 'screw you'.

"So when they get a letter from Ofcom saying, ‘Here are all the things you’re going to have to do’, it seems to me the most likely reaction is going to be they’re going to say, ‘Well, we won’t operate in the UK any more'."

Failing to co-operate with Ofcom could put Rumble executives at risk of arrest if visiting Britain, it has been suggested.

Dame Caroline Dineage, who chairs the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, wrote to Rumble last Thursday asking whether they would be "suspending Brand's ability to earn money".

The comic and film star has 1.4million followers on Rumble.

Her letter came as YouTube announced it would be demonetising his account on their platform, meaning Brand could no longer cash in on ads accompanying his clips there.

The BBC and Channel 4 also removed content featuring Brand from their streaming sites.


But Rumble's chief executive Chris Pavlovski hit back by sharing his letter of response to Dame Caroline on X, formerly Twitter.

He said: "We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living."

He condemned the idea of joining what he called "a cancel culture mob", saying it "would be a violation of our company's values and mission".

Mr Pavlovski added: "We emphatically reject the UK parliament's demands."

And former Fox News presenter Dan Bongino, one of Rumble's largest financial backers, wrote on X: "Join Rumble today. Russell is already there."

An Ofcom spokesman said: "Ofcom is preparing to regulate online safety by ensuring that tech companies have effective measures in place to protect their users, particularly children.

"As well as establishing these standards, we will engage regularly with services to understand what they are doing to protect their users, and push them to make improvements where needed."

Rumble subscribers pay a minimum of £50 per year while creators can also earn more cash from donations.

Brand, 48, has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by four women including one who was aged 16 at the time.

Allegations made in a joint investigation by The Times and Channel 4's Dispatches include that he raped a woman against a wall at his Los Angeles flat.

The four women say he attacked them between 2006 and 2013 at the height of his fame, when presenting shows for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 and starring in Hollywood movies.

The accusations include not only rape and sexual assault but also emotional and physical abuse.

He is also now being investigated by the Metropolitan Police after a woman contacted them last week alleging she was sexually assaulted by Brand in 2003 in London's Soho.

Brand shared a YouTube video on September 15 in which he denied any wrongdoing and claimed there was a "co-ordinated media attack" against him.

And last Friday night he told his 3.8million Instagram followers to back him on Rumble after what he called a "distressing week".

He said: "I need your support now, more than ever, and more than I ever imagined I would. Please, if you can, stay free."

Brand's wife Laura Gallacher, 36, who he married in 2017, is said to be standing by him.

He previously wed US pop star Katy Perry in October 2010 but they divorced in July 2012.

Brand urged people to support him in his latest Instagram video last Friday

The BBC has removed online content featuring Brand after accusations against him

Brand has been married to Laura Gallacher since 2017

He was previously wed to US pop star Katy Perry

What is Rumble?

Video-sharing website Rumble was founded in 2013 by Canadian entrepreneur Chris Pavlovski and is based in Toronto.

He launched it as alternative platform for independent creators he believed were being ignored on mainstream services.

Some 533million visits to the site were recorded between June and last month.

People using it include former US president Donald Trump and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Jones has been ordered to pay £1.2billion in damages to families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims, after falsely claiming the attack was a hoax.

Russell Brand has become Rumble's fifth most popular contributor after filming and sharing rants about Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, vaccines, digital currencies and the West’s role in the Ukraine war.

Other prominent channels active on the site include America's Funniest Home Videos, Hodgetwins, Newsmax, OANN and Reuters.

Celebrities who previously posted on Rumble before leaving it include actors Drew Barrymore and Ashton Kutcher and YouTube comedian Colleen Ballinger.

The company has been valued at £410million by the Wall Street Journal, while Mr Pavlovski is said to have a personal fortune of about £63million.

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