The video-sharing platform Rumble on Sept. 20 condemned a letter from a UK parliamentary committee that raised concerns about the presence of Russell Brand on its platform as the British actor and comic faces allegations of rape and sexual assault.
In a strongly worded response to the letter from Dame Caroline Dinenage, chairwoman of the UK Parliament's Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, Rumble asserted its commitment to free speech and independence from cancel culture.
In her letter, dated Sept. 20, Ms. Dinenage expressed concern about Mr. Brand's use of Rumble to respond to allegations made against him in The Sunday Times and Channel 4's “Dispatches” program.
She said the parliamentary committee is probing all broadcasters and production companies “who previously employed Mr. Brand” to determine “the culture of the industry” in the wake of the allegations.
Dame Caroline also inquired whether Mr. Brand was monetizing his content on Rumble and whether the platform had any intention of suspending his ability to earn money from it.
“While we recognize that Rumble is not the creator of the content published by Mr. Brand, we are concerned that he may be able to profit from his content on the platform,” Ms. Dinenage wrote.
“If so, we would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr. Brand's ability to earn money on the platform.”
Mr. Brand's Rumble and YouTube channels feature monologues about social and political matters. He has also appeared on corporate media networks in the United States and criticized them on air.
'Deeply Inappropriate and Dangerous' RequestRumble condemned what it saw as the UK Parliament's attempt to control who is allowed to speak on their platform and earn a living from it.
"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 from doing so," Rumble stated.
The company added that the government official's inquiry about whether it would turn off Mr. Brand's ability to monetize his videos was "even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble."
"We emphatically reject the UK Parliament's demands," Rumble added.
Ms. Dinenage's letter also raised concerns about creators using the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal behavior.
In response, Rumble mentioned that it doesn't agree with the behavior of many Rumble creators but refuses to penalize them for actions unrelated to their platform.
The AllegationsOver the weekend, several women accused Mr. Brand of abuse, including rape, in their relationships. One accuser didn't report a 2012 rape claim to the Los Angeles police, expressing doubts that her testimony would "mean anything up against his.”
Another woman who worked for Mr. Brand in West Hollywood alleged that he attempted to rape her but she fought him off and escaped.
The LAPD hasn't confirmed any ongoing investigations or arrests.
A UK woman, who was 16 at the time, accused Mr. Brand of engaging in an abusive sexual relationship with her and of coaching her to lie to her parents.
In a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 17, Mr. Brand said he "absolutely refute[s]" the allegations. He said he was "always transparent" about being promiscuous but that the sexual relationships he had "were absolutely always consensual."
YouTube Demonetizes Brand's ChannelsRumble's statement comes in the wake of YouTube's decision on Sept. 19 to bar Mr. Brand from monetizing his video content based on the media accusations against him.
"Rumble stands for very different values," Rumble stated, referring to YouTube's decision. "We have devoted ourselves to the vital cause of defending a free internet—meaning an internet where no one arbitrarily dictates which ideas can or cannot be heard, or which citizens may or may not be entitled to a platform."
During the weekend, The Times of London and The Sunday Times released an article, while Channel 4's "Dispatches" presented a television exposé. These reports featured unnamed women making allegations against Mr. Brand, which included claims of sexual misconduct such as rape, abuse, and grooming.
The Metropolitan Police in the UK has also confirmed that it has received a report of sexual assault that allegedly occurred in London in 2003.
Mr. Brand transitioned from a career in comedy, acting, and TV hosting to creating content on YouTube, where he has more than 6.6 million subscribers. He is known for discussing his past struggles with addiction and promiscuity in his comedy and more recently as a wellness influencer and outspoken critic of corporate media.
He published a video on his Rumble and YouTube channels denying any criminal allegations hours before the allegations were published in media reports. In the video, he accuses the media outlets of initiating a "coordinated" attack on him.
YouTube previously told The Epoch Times that it took action against Mr. Brand's channel, based on the "serious allegations" in the media reports under its "Creator Responsibility policy."
"If a creator’s off-platform behavior harms our users, employees, or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community,” the spokesperson said.
The suspension of monetization extends to all YouTube channels owned or operated by Mr. Brand.