The government wanted Rumble to remove Russian news sources, which it refused to do, the platform said.
Rumble, a Toronto-based video hosting service similar to YouTube that prides itself on being pro-free speech, has announced that users in France will no longer be able to access the site. The suspension came after a request from Paris to remove some Russian news sources, the company added.
The video hosting service said it had pledged not to move the “goal posts” on its policy of platforming users with “unpopular opinions”. He challenged the legality of the French order, but for now access in France will be disabled, the statement said on Tuesday.
Rumble added that the decision will not have a material impact on the company, since less than 1% of its user base watches videos from France. He expressed hope that Paris will reconsider its request and allow Rumble to operate in the country again.
CEO Chris Pavlovski shared the news on Twitter – in response to a tweet from Elon Musk in which he said he had resisted pressure from some governments to ban Russian news sources on his broadband service by Starlink satellite. In the March post, Musk declared himself a “free speech absolutist” and I promised not to give in “except at gunpoint.” The billionaire bought Twitter last month and has pledged to review its controversial content moderation policies.
The French government demanded that Rumble (@rumblevideo) block Russian news sources. As @Elon Musk, I will not move our goal posts for any foreign government. Rumble will turn off France completely (France is not important to us) and we will challenge the legality of this request. https://t.co/a4Nn4S1MMf
— Chris Pavlovski (@chrispavlovski) November 1, 2022
Journalist Glenn Greenwald contrasted Rumble’s reaction to France’s demands for close cooperation between other US tech companies and the US government. “Fortunately, Rumble told France to fuck off”, he said.
A report in The Intercept, a news outlet Greenwald co-founded and later resigned from, revealed last week that US federal agencies and major US Big Tech companies have worked hand-in-hand to suppress what Washington considers to be “disinformation,” including the factually true story of the Hunter Biden laptop.
Greenwald left The Intercept in October 2020 due to his refusal to print his analysis of the Big Tech and media censorship of the laptop story in its entirety. He has since partnered with Rumble and is in the process of launching a talk show on the platform, which he said “has no desire to be anything other than a content-neutral free speech platform.”
France, like other EU countries, banned Russian government-funded news outlets, including RT, after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine. Major platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enforce the ban by preventing EU citizens from accessing content from these sources.
Musk said last week after his acquisition of Twitter that “the bird is released” but EU leaders appeared to pour cold water on the notion. “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our rules”, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, said.
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