In the current issue of City Journal, Steven Malanga looks at the traffic Silicon Valley is losing. Not much was expected of Rumble, an alternative YouTube founded in 2013 by Canadian entrepreneur Chris Pavlovski. But it hung on until 2020, when YouTube stepped up its efforts to remove content inconsistent with its public-spirited values or with its parent company Google’s political alliances — depending on who you talk to. At any rate, high-profile commentators were looking fora new home. And they found one:
In just ten months, Rumble’s online viewership has increased 25-fold. The company has attracted funding from prominent venture capitalists and recently completed a series of deals to bring such outspoken voices as Greenwald, Gabbard, and Joe Rogan to the platform.Steven Malanga, “Free-Speech Entrepreneurs” at City Journal (Autumn 2021)
One of those venture capitalists is the outspoken Peter Thiel who, readers may recall, told COSM 2021 earlier this month that computers that think like people are not on the horizon but mass electronic surveillance is. While Google may be comfortable in a world where social media users are continuously surveyed/ruled by intelligent machines (or those who implement them), Thiel started investing in Rumble in May, along with J. D. Vance-led Narya Capital. It started slow and, in a way, local:
In August 2020, however, California congressman Devin Nunes, complaining of YouTube censorship, began posting videos on Rumble, followed by radio host Dan Bongino and Fox host Sean Hannity. Other prominent conservatives followed, and traffic has soared to 25 million monthly visitors.Steven Malanga, “Free-Speech Entrepreneurs” at City Journal (Autumn 2021)
One factor that may help Rumble is that, in current controversies, it’s not always clear what makes a position “conservative.” Parents who want a say in what their children are learning in tax-supported compulsory schools have been much more active of late. Their position is not especially conservative by most people’s standards. If dominant Silicon Valley social media move to mute the parents’ influence, for example, the Valley will simply be helping industry competitors grow.
Because the human time available is fixed, that growth will be directly at the Valley’s expense.
Malanga also notes that online subscription service Substack has succeeded well enough to acquire a competitor, Ghost. It’s a good time for analysts and commentators who want to reach the public with a message that Big Tech and/or traditional media are not interested in sponsoring.
You may also wish to read:
Newsletter group creates alarm plus demands for censorship Substack is getting a lot of ink these days — raising both hope from readers and hand wringing from old media. The surprising thing about “controversial” Substack is that it is a restoration of the very old idea that we should pay a small amount for the content we want.
In Big Tech World: the journalist as censor, hit man, and snitch. Glenn Greenwald looks at a disturbing trend in media toward misrepresentation as well as censorship.