A committee for the United Kingdom’s House of Commons has asked TikTok and Rumble if broadcaster and comedian Russell Brand is monetizing his content on their platforms.
The request comes days after a joint investigation conducted by the Sunday Times of London and Channel 4 brought forth allegations that Brand has committed rape, sexual assaults, and emotional abuse.
“While we recognise that TikTok is not the creator of the content published by Mr Brand, and his content may be within the Community Guidelines set out by the platform, we are concerned that he may be able to profit from his content on the platofrm [sic],” Caroline Dinenage, Chair of Culture, Media, and Sports Committee (CMS), wrote in a Sept. 19 letter to Dr. Theo Bertram, the director of Government Relations in Europe for TikTok.
“We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his TikTok posts, including his videos relating to the serious accusations against him, and what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal beheaviour [sic],” she continued.
Dinenage wrote a similarly worded letter to the online video platform Rumble on Sept. 20.
“We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his content, including his videos relating to the serious accusations against him,” she wrote. “If so, we would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform.”
Rumble posted a response to the letter, which the platform called “extremely distrubing,” on X:
Just yesterday, YouTube announced that, based solely on these media accusations, it was barring Mr. Brand from monetizing his video content. Rumble stands for very different values. We have devoted ourselves to the vital cause of defending a free internet — meaning an internet where no one arbitrarily dictates which ideas can or cannot be heard, or which citizens may or may not be entitled to a platform.
We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK Parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or to earn a living from doing so. Singling out an individual and demanding his ban is even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble.
The letter concludes: “We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands.”
— Rumble – 🏴☠️ $RUM (@rumblevideo) September 20, 2023
In a separate statement published to the committee’s website, Dinenage remarked on the “very serious and disturbing accusations” against Brand and said CMS would contact BBC and Channel 4 “to understand the actions they are taking as we consider some of the issues around these allegations.”
She went on to say, “The allegations have been widely described by reporters in the press and on social media as an ‘open secret’ and quite often these secrets are shared between friends and colleagues just to keep each other safe. But my concern is when people in power are aware of rumours or stories yet don’t act, then a culture is allowed to permeate.”
Dinenage urged Channel 4’s chief executive to disclose how the public broadcast channel has responded to the allegations and provide CMS with timely updates to their ongoing investigation. She made similar requests of BBC’s general director.
CMS is a committee tasked with examining government policy, spending and administration on behalf of the electorate and the House of Commons, per the CMS website.
The requests made by the committee follow Brand’s demonetization on YouTube earlier this week.
Brand will not be allowed to monetize his main account, which boasts over 6.6 million subscribers, along with any other channels connected to the comedian including Awakening With Russell Brand, Football Is Nice, and Stay Free With Russell Brand.
In a statement, YouTube said Brand reportedly violated the platform’s Creator Responsibility policy which sets standards for users’ behavior on and off YouTube.
“If a creator’s off-platform behavior harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community,” the statement said, per CNN.
On Sept. 15, Brand preemptively revealed allegations against him would surface in a video shared to his YouTube and other social media accounts titled, “This is happening.”
The comedian said he received a letter and an email from a “mainstream media TV company” and newspaper slamming Brand’s career transition towards criticizing mainstream news. The email and letter also reportedly listed allegations of sexual misconduct against Brand which the comedian refuted.
“These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream,” he said, adding he was “very promiscuous” at that time in his life. “The relationships I had were absolutely always consensual.”
The allegations against Brand spanning between 2006 and 2013 include one accuser, who has not been named, claiming the comedian sexually assaulted her when she was 16. Another woman alleged Brand sexually assaulted her in Los Angeles.
Christopher Bertman contributed to this report
Editor’s Note: The initial version of this article did not include recently available information regarding the correspondence between Dinenage and Rumble. The article has been updated with information from that exchange.