Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced that he’s “quitting” YouTube—sort of. In a press release, Paul said that he will continue posting on YouTube, but only to criticize it or direct people to his videos on Rumble.
Paul says his YouTube departure is part of his New Year’s resolution to quit big tech over what he views as unjust censorship of ideas.
“Today I begin my exodus from Big Tech, starting with the worst censor of all, YouTube,” Paul said.
“As a libertarian-leaning senator, I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, however, those of us who believe that truth comes from disputation and that the marketplace of ideas is a prerequisite for innovation should shun the close-minded censors and take our ideas elsewhere, which is exactly what I’m doing.”
Paul has been tangling with YouTube throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Last August, YouTube suspended him for a week for violating its policies against spreading COVID disinformation. He claims that the company has censored his videos questioning the efficacy of masks.
In an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, Paul said it also deleted a video of him giving a speech suggesting that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) conspired with Alexander Vindman and others to impeach former President Donald Trump.
“The gall to delete constitutionally protected speech!” Paul wrote.
He went on to call for all people who lean right politically to leave major platforms to “cripple Big Tech.”
In addition to Rumble, Paul says he intends to post on a news aggregator website he’s calling “Liberty Tree.” The site appears to be something of a blog with posts by Paul, his family members, whoever runs the page, and other conservative politicians and figures.
The oldest video on his Rumble page, where he has 400,000 subscribers, was posted last February. In August, Paul posted a YouTube video announcing that he was joining Rumble.
Many, particularly (though not exclusively) conservatives, have grown increasingly frustrated with what they view as censorship by large social media platforms.
Paul’s announcement was met with a mixture of applause and amusement.
“No matter where you go, as long as the people of the United States and the people of the world are still alive, they will always follow you,” tweeted one of Paul’s supporters.
A detractor likewise commented, “Zero. This is the number of people who give a flying fuck.”
Chris Pavlovski, whose bio says he’s the chief executive officer of Rumble, welcomed Paul.
“What a surprising and welcomed move to Rumble,” he tweeted. “Walking the talk is rare (everyone complains about YouTube), but he’s one of the few that actually cancelled it.”
Paul hasn’t actually committed to canceling YouTube, however. He plans to continue using his channel, where records show he has 21 million all-time views, to criticize YouTube and direct people to his Rumble page.