Rumble, online platforms pressured to demonetize Russell Brand amid sexual assault allegations
The U.K. parliament recently passed a law that could lead to Rumble leaving the country, according to a former Facebook executive. In the meantime, Brand's live stand-up tour has been postponed, after he played last week to a 2,000-strong crowd in London on the night the allegations were first aired, and received a standing ovation from his fans.
As actor and podcast host Russell Brand is facing multiple sexual assault allegations, platforms such as Rumble are facing pressure to demonetize his accounts, as the YouTube competitor has lost some advertisers.
Some advertisers on Rumble are leaving the video platform following its decision to not demonetize Brand's account after sexual assault allegations were reported, while the U.K. parliament passes a law that would have stricter rules for online platforms.
U.K. media outlets the Sunday Times, the Times and Channel 4's Dispatches worked together on reports released over a week ago that contained allegations of sexual assault and an allegation of rape by Brand against four women between 2006 and 2013.
Brand has denied all the allegations, saying in a video he posted on Rumble, “Amidst this litany of astonishing, rather baroque attacks, are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute."
“These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies. And as I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous,” Brand added. “Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual.”
On Monday, London's Metropolitan Police announced an investigation into “non-recent” sexual assault allegations but didn’t mention Brand.
"Following an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches and The Sunday Times, the Met has received a number of allegations of sexual offenses in London," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "We have also received a number of allegations of sexual offenses committed elsewhere in the country and will investigate these."
Prior to the announcement, the Metropolitan Police said it had received a woman’s report "of a sexual assault which was alleged to have taken place in Soho in central London in 2003."
No arrests have been made by the police.
Last Tuesday, one day after the 2003 sexual assault allegation was reported, YouTube demonetized Brand’s account, which has more than 6.6 million subscribers on the platform.
On Wednesday, U.K. parliament member Caroline Dinenage, who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, sent letters to Meta, Rumble, TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter), asking if Brand is able to monetize his content on the platforms and whether the companies intend to follow YouTube and demonetize his accounts.
Rumble responded to the parliament member’s letter, writing, "While Rumble obviously deplores sexual assault, rape, and all serious crimes, and believes that both alleged victims and the accused are entitled to a full and serious investigation, it is vital to note that recent allegations against Russell Brand have nothing to do with content on Rumble's platform."
"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 later added. "We don't agree with the behavior of many Rumble creators, but we refuse to penalize them for actions that have nothing to do with our platform."
Brand has over 1.6 million followers on Rumble as of publishing time.
On Friday, The News Movement reported that Burger King, ASOS, London’s Barbican centre and HelloFresh pulled their advertisements from Brand’s Rumble account after The News Movement reached out to the companies about their advertisements on Brand’s channel. Burger King, London’s Barbican centre and HelloFresh all told The News Movement that they have removed or will remove all their advertisements from Rumble.
Rumble didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Meanwhile, a recently-passed bill regarding the regulation of content on the World Wide Web could impact Rumble, according to a former Facebook executive.
The U.K. parliament passed the Online Safety Bill last week, which is due to become law next month. The bill requires online services to prevent children from viewing porn and material that promotes suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders. However, the bill also includes the prohibition of violent content and material that would be harmful to health, including vaccine misinformation.
The U.K.’s communications regulator, Ofcom, will be the agency enforcing the law.
Former Facebook executive Lord Richard Allan of Hallam said that the law will likely impact Rumble.
"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,” Allan told the Times.
"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.'"
On Friday, regarding the reports of allegations against Brand, U.K. Attorney General Victoria Prentis announced that she “wishes to amplify the importance of not publishing any material where there is a risk that it could prejudice any potential criminal investigation or prosecutions. Publishing this material could amount to contempt of court.”
The Times senior writer Sean O’Neill wrote in an opinion column in response to the attorney general’s announcement, "Prentis’s intervention is a shocking overreach. It is not her job to tell reporters to stop reporting on issues where there is merely the ‘potential’ for criminal proceedings."
"It is the job of reporters to uncover misconduct and wrongdoing, to gather evidence that could lead to criminal trials," he continued.
The BBC removed content from its streaming platforms that include Brand and announced that his behavior from his time with the company will be reviewed.
Brand’s live stand-up tour has been postponed, after he played last week to a 2,000-strong crowd in London on the night the allegations were first aired, and received a standing ovation from his fans, according to Deadline.com.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- U.K. media outlets
- reports released
- video he posted
- Brand added
- announced an investigation
- Metropolitan Police said
- received a womanâs report
- sent letters
- Rumble responded
- Rumble later added
- 1.6 million followers on Rumble
- The News Movement reported
- passed the Online Safety Bill
- law will likely impact Rumble
- Allan told the Times
- U.K. Attorney General Victoria Prentis announced
- wrote in an opinion column
- BBC removed content