Mr. Pavlovski and Rumble representatives did not respond to interview requests.
But he has made clear in streamed remarks to Rumble creators and to others that his ambitions are far greater than increasing traffic to his website and app. With investments from like-minded critics of Big Tech like Mr. Thiel, Mr. Pavlovski has described a vision for building a “new internet” — a kind of alt-web that is entirely distinct from the dominant players in the industry.
Rumble has already built out its own cloud service infrastructure and video streaming capacity, offering it and its partners greater independence from the Amazons and Microsofts of the internet — and the assurance that they can’t be shut down if one of those providers decides to pull the plug over objectionable content. Looming large in the minds of Rumble fans is the experience of the social media network Parler, which effectively shut down once Amazon said it would no longer host the site on its computing services after the Jan. 6 attacks last year.
The promise of independence from the tech giants led Mr. Trump to have Rumble provide technology and cloud services for Truth Social, which has struggled to become fully operational on its own. In a statement announcing the partnership in December, Mr. Trump said he had picked Rumble because it’s among the service providers “who do not discriminate against political ideology.”
Rumble has also secured exclusive arrangements with popular content creators who have a following beyond conservatives and Trump supporters, such as the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been vocal about his beliefs that technology behemoths and the mainstream media have too much power to quash speech. Rumble highlighted its partnership with Mr. Greenwald as an example of its content-neutral approach. (As for what it considers out of bounds, Rumble says it does not tolerate anything that is overtly racist, promotes violence or breaks the law.)
But there are also the popular Rumble creators the company doesn’t talk about in news releases, like Alex Jones of Infowars, who was barred from YouTube and other mainstream platforms in 2018 and now has more than 100,000 Rumble followers.
That’s a small number compared with the millions on YouTube who followed Mr. Jones, who has spread bogus theories that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was staged as part of a government plot to confiscate firearms. Those who study the right-wing media ecosystem say it is difficult to tell how large the overall audience for hard-right content is, in large part because the traffic data available for individual sites includes a lot of overlap from users who frequent more than one.
“It’s an intensely engaged population,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School who is a co-author of a book about the ways conservative outlets reinforce their messages through repetition and shut down dissent. For an individual platform like Rumble, he added, the audience is likely to be larger than whatever the size is on paper.
Source: NY Times