Rumble, the so-called free speech alternative to YouTube, is the subject of an investigation by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to the company and a letter from the SEC.
The SEC confirmed its investigation involving Rumble in response to a public records request that WIRED first filed in November, seeking documents related to the company. The agency denied WIRED’s request on the grounds that related documents were part of an “active and ongoing” investigation. Confirmation of the probe follows public allegations that Rumble inflated key user metrics, which the company denies.
The SEC says that the existence of the probe should not be an indication that “any violations of law have occurred with respect to any person, entity, or security.” The exact nature of the SEC investigation is still unknown.
“We have confirmed with Division of Enforcement staff that the investigation from which you seek records is still active and ongoing,” Melinda Hardy, the assistant general counsel for litigation and administrative practice at the SEC, said in a January 8 letter to WIRED.
Hardy added that disclosure of the documents WIRED sought as part of its Freedom of Information Act request “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.”
Rumble spokesperson Rory Rumore tells WIRED that the company provided information to the SEC voluntarily in response to a request for documents from the SEC Enforcement staff. Rumore also says in a statement: “We caution anyone from jumping to false conclusions about matters related to Rumble.”
Founded in 2013 by Canadian entrepreneur Chris Pavlovski, Rumble was originally dedicated to hosting viral videos of dogs and cats. The site now claims to push back “against cancel culture and creeping censorship,” hosting shows by Donald Trump Jr. and right-wing personality Steven Crowder. Rumble is also the official streaming partner of the Republican National Committee’s 2024 presidential primary debates.
“The SEC does not comment on the existence or nonexistence of a possible investigation,” an SEC spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Rumble’s investors have included JD Vance, a US senator from Ohio, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who has contributed heavily to Republican candidates. Elon Musk confidant and tech venture capitalist David Sacks sits on Rumble’s board of directors.