Reuters Publishes Article Critical of Alternative Video Platforms, But Did They Fail to Highlight Significant Conflict of Interest?

File photo: T. Schneider, Shutter Stock, licensed.
Some conservatives are speculating that the story is a hit piece aimed at getting Rumble’s inclusion in Apple and Google’s app stores revoked essentially deplatforming the service; BitChute is already banned from both stores however, Odysee – wile banned from Google – has remained in Apple’s store after agreeing to block searches for COVID-19-related content in its app following accusations of promoting pandemic-related misinformation.

CANADA – Reuters, one of the largest mainstream news agencies in the world, published an article on August 22 that was highly critical of video hosting platforms such as Odysee, Rumble and BitChute, which are considered to be “alt-right” competitors of Google’s YouTube.

The article claims that these sites are home to “conspiracies, racism and graphic violence,” and that they have taken “advantage of Big Tech disinformation crackdowns and the rise of [former President Donald] Trump” in order to “reflect a new media universe – one where COVID-19 is fake, Russia fights Nazis in Ukraine, and mass shootings are ‘false flag’ operations.”

Reuters cracked down especially hard on BitChute, saying that the video platform hosts content that supports conspiracy theories such as QAnon and Trump’s allegations that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 Presidential election, in addition to content that alleges that the recent May mass shooting in Buffalo, New York was actually planned and carried out by Democrats “to discredit gun-loving Americans.”

However, BitChute said in a statement to Reuters that the video-sharing site merely supports the First Amendment.

“Bitchute’s North Star is free speech, which is the cornerstone of a free and democratic society,” BitChute the statement said.

Both Bitchute and Odysee purport to have rules in-place that outlaw videos with racist content or calls to violence; however, Reuters claims that the rules are rarely enforced and that both issues are rampant on the platforms. Odysee stated to Reuters that their site wasn’t defined by “right-wing and conspiracy content,” and that they were attempting to cultivate content creators who contribute science and technology-related videos.

Alternative video platforms have spiked in popularity since 2019, with Reuters noting that “they have cultivated a devoted audience of mostly younger men, according to data from digital intelligence firm Similarweb.”

Indeed, Reuters reported that, according to Similarweb, “BitChute’s online traffic grew 63 percent in 2021 over the previous year, to 514 million visits.” Likewise, the news agency stated that Odysee’s visits had grown to 33 million in August 2021 alone.

Reuters also noted Rumble in their article, which they stated as being the largest and most well-funded and mainstream of alt-right video platforms, and exercises more overall restraint as far as content moderation goes. For example, Reuters said that a search for the infamous “N-word” on Rumble turned up zero results; the same cannot be said, unfortunately, of either Bitchute or Odysee.

Rumble is successful, according to founder Chris Pavlovski, because it allows all manner of content in order to allow users “to make up their own minds after hearing all sides.”

Further success is expected since Rumble’s inclusion in Apple and Google’s app stores; in contrast, BitChute has been banned from both stores, and Odysee – although banned from Google – has remained in Apple’s store after agreeing to block searches for COVID-19-related content in its app following accusations of promoting pandemic-related misinformation.

Some conservative commentators have claimed that Reuters’ article is an attempt to draw bad publicly to alternative video platforms that offer alternative viewpoints that differ from the mainstream in order to have them deplatformed, whereas critics of these sites have argued that despite their claims of being bastions of free speech, they are merely repositories for racism and misinformation that have at times translated into real-world violence.

For instance, YouTuber David Freiheit, pointed out that what he called “Reuters fact check COO” sits on the board of Pfizer, and works with the The World Economic Forum.

While Smith’s current role at Reuters is not clear, he shows a 100% meeting attendance rating in Thomson Reuters Corporation board meetings report for 2020 and remains listed on the Pfizer website as an active Member of the Board of Directors.

Regardless of the content that they host – the growth of these alternative video-hosting platforms continue to rise in popularity, and it remains to be seen what their ultimate impact upon mainstream society will be.

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