The UK Parliament has sent letters to TikTok and Rumble expressing concerns that comedian Russel Brand could be profiting off the platforms.
"I am writing concerning the serious allegations regarding Russell Brand, in the context as a user of TikTok with more than 2.2 million followers on the platform," the letter to Theo Bertram, TikTok Director of Government Relations, Europe, began.
The following day after TikTok was sent the letter, Rumble received a similar letter from Dinenage, noting Brand’s 1.4 million followers on the platform, and asking whether Rumble "intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr. Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform."
"The Culture, Media and Sport [Committee] is raising questions with the broadcasters who previously employed Mr. Brand or production companies who employed him, to examine both the culture of the industry in the past and whether that culture still prevails today," Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage MP wrote.
Dinenage noted that while Brand no longer appears on television, he has amassed a following on various social media platforms, "including on TikTok where this weekend he republished his pre-emptive response to the accusations made against him by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches."
"While we recognize that TikTok is not the creator of the content published by Mr. Brand, and his content may be within the Community Guidelines set out by the platform, we are concerned that he may be able to profit from his content on the platform."
Dinenage requested that TikTok confirm whether Brand is able to monetize his content on the platform, and tell "what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate or potentially illegal behavior."
Attached is the letter from the UK Parliament. pic.twitter.com/MdeYrlt06J— Rumble - 🏴☠️ $RUM (@rumblevideo) September 20, 2023
In a statement, Rumble called the letter "extremely disturbing," adding that "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 Russel Brand have nothing to do with content on Rumble’s platform."
The platform noted that on Tuesday, YouTube suspended Brand’s monetization on the platform after anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct arose.
"Rumble stands for different values. 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."
Rumble said the UK Parliament’s "attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living from doing so" was "deeply inappropriate and dangerous," adding that singling out a person and demanding his ban "is even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble."
"Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands," the statement concluded.
YouTube said its suspension of Brand’s monetization, for a channel that has over 6.6 million subscribers, comes "following serious allegations against the creator."
"If a creator's off-platform behavior harms our users," YouTube said in the statement, "employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community."
The suspension of monetization, YouTube said, extends to "all channels that may be owned or operated by Russell Brand." He has four channels on the platform.
"This is not appropriate in any way shape or form," Jordan Peterson wrote in response to the letter.
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