Shares of Rumble, the right-wing social media platform backed by Peter Thiel, began publicly trading Sept. 19. In the crowded sphere of alt-right Twitter and Facebook alternatives—which includes Parler, Rumble, Truth Social, Gab and Gettr—Rumble is the first to go public.
These platforms promise free speech and limited content moderation in response to what their founders believe is excessive speech policing on other platforms. They have appealed to conservatives and to extremist groups who have been blocked from other networks. Users skyrocketed after the Jan. 6 insurrection and subsequent banning of Donald Trump from Twitter and Facebook. Content featuring racism, violence, misinformation and conspiracy theories can be found in the feeds, and far-right extremists have used the platforms to amplify their voices. The shooter who killed 11 people in the Pittsburgh synagogue posted on Gab beforehand, and the nail gun and rifle-wielder who attacked the Cincinnati FBI office posted to Truth Social while running from police.
Here are the major players:
Parler mirrors Twitter’s feed and displays a news section but doesn’t offer a private messaging feature.
- User count: 16 million
- Controversial content: QAnon, 2020 election fraud, right-wing news stories, anti-semitism, anti-vaccine
- Founded: 2018
- Founded by: John Matze and Jared Thomson, friends from the University of Denver who created the company after graduating
- Owned by: “A small group of close friends and employees,” according to John Matze.
- Primary funding by: undisclosed
- Investors: Rebekah Mercer, heiress and director of the Mercer family foundation; Dan Bongino, political commentator; Jeffrey Wernick, animation executive and sports agent
- More than 500 videos of the Jan. 6 insurrection were posted to Parler, ProPublica found
Rumble is similar to YouTube, operating as a video-sharing platform that includes livestreams and subscriptions.
- User count: 44 million
- Controversial content: QAnon, conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine, (but also animal videos, cooking, gaming and news from Reuters, which claims Rumble pays to host its content)
- Founded: 2013
- Founded by: Chris Pavlovski, Canadian entrepreneur
- Now publicly traded via a SPAC deal
- Investors: Peter Thiel, billionaire and Facebook investor; J. D. Vance, Ohio senate candidate; Narya Capital, Ohio-based venture capital firm; Colt Ventures, Texas-based venture capital firm
- Owns a cloud service business which hosts Truth Social
Truth Social resembles Twitter and makes it easy to follow trending hashtags but doesn’t have private messaging.
- User count: 2 million
- Controversial content: Trumpism, right-wing news stories, 2020 election fraud, anti-semitism, violence
- Users: The platform is popular among male, college-educated millennials as well as gamers, esports fans and Reddit users, a Statista survey found
- Founded in: 2021
- Founded by: Donald Trump
- Owned by: Trump Media & Technology Group
- Primary funding by: Undisclosed
Gab is modeled after Facebook, and includes private groups and a marketplace.
- User count: 5 million
- Controversial content: Nazism, QAnon, anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, anti-minority, anti-vaccine
- Users: The platform caters to a white Christian nationalist audience, a Standford study found
- Founded: 2016
- Founded by: Andrew Torba, outspoken Christian nationalist
- Primary funding by: StartEngine, equity crowdfunding platform
- Donors: Alex Jones, alt-right talk-show host and conspiracy theorist; Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican congresswoman; Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican congresswoman; Robert Cornero Jr., QAnon conspiracy theorist; The Epoch Times, far-right newspaper; Ron Watkins, conspiracy theorist; Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow; Franklin Graham, evangelist and missionary
Gettr looks like Twitter, offering private messaging and a news feed, but also promotes livestreams like Facebook and Instagram.
- User count: 4 million
- Controversial content: terrorist propaganda, antisemitism, racism, right-wing news stories
- Founded in: 2021
- Founded by: Jason Miller, a former Donald Trump aide
- Primary funding by: Guo Family Foundation, owned by Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who is a critic of the Chinese communist party