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Biden Regulator Puts Free Speech Video Platform In Its Sights

Jason Cohen on January 9, 2024

President Joe Biden’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating video platform Rumble for undisclosed reasons, the agency confirmed to Wired on Monday.

The SEC’s acknowledgment of the investigation to Wired comes after an April report by investment research firm Culper Research alleging that Rumble boosts measurements of its monthly active users (MAU) by 66% to 108%, which the company vehemently denies. Culper Research disclosed its “short” position on Rumble at the time of the report’s release, indicating potential profit if Rumble’s stock falls.

“Rumble now claims (as of Q4 2022) to have 80 million MAUs, yet SimilarWeb estimates that in Q4, Rumble.com saw a unique web-based audience of just 28.9 million, SEMrush estimates 38.8 million unique web visitors, and we estimate Rumble’s cumulative mobile app downloads totaled just 9.5 million through Q4 2022,” the report states.

The report is inaccurate and part of an effort to take down Rumble, CEO Chris Pavlovski asserted on Monday.

“The report is bogus, but that doesn’t matter—it’s all to get investors to sell the stock so the short seller profits,” Pavlovski stated. “Good news, it won’t work. We saw the attacks coming, and we prepared for them. Prior to going public, we chose to use Google Analytics to track and report our MAUs, so we could be ready for this very moment.”

Rumble considers itself a free speech alternative to YouTube and it has faced significant pushback from professional censors.

“This is just the start, they’re coming for us in 2024,” Pavlovksi added. “They can’t stand Rumble’s mission, but they are going to learn quickly how hard we punch back.”

An SEC spokesperson asserted its policy not to comment on investigations in response to the Daily Caller News Foundation. However, SEC assistant general counsel for litigation and administrative practice Melinda Hardy told Wired the investigation is active in a letter on Monday in response to the outlet’s November public records request.

“We have confirmed with Division of Enforcement staff that the investigation from which you seek records is still active and ongoing,” Hardy told Wired. The solicited documents “could be reasonably expected to cause harm to the ongoing and active enforcement proceedings because, among other things, individuals and entities of interest in the underlying investigation could fabricate evidence, influence witness testimony and/or destroy or alter certain documents.”

The unspecified investigation does not necessarily mean Rumble broke any laws, the SEC told Wired.

“Investors should be especially dubious of rumors peddled by short-sellers who are attempting to distort facts for their own financial benefit,” Rumble spokesman Rory Rumore told Wired.

Rumble did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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