Donald Trump joined the alt tech platform, Rumble, a YouTube competitor launched in 2013, soaring past 175k channel subscribers in 24 hours. With this we may say the battle between alt tech and big tech truly begins, albeit with alt tech starting very far behind big tech in every metric.
The move comes after much speculation the deplatformed former President would join multiple other platforms, including Twitter-like alt tech platform Parler. But some consider Rumble both a more stable and long-lived platform that isn’t as prone to crashes as the other platforms.
Expectations that many more users will flock to Rumble and that Trump’s account there will eventually eclipse his Twitter following may be premature as Trump had 88.9 million followers on Twitter. However, if in fact one saw anything approaching that on Rumble, it could disrupt the digital landscape as entities seeking to reach that audience would be forced to take Rumble into account for their advertising.
It remains to be seen whether this will significantly boost Rumble’s user base and make this platform a bit competitive with YouTube or even whether Trump’s presence there would be long-lived as this platform may have massive pressures from the corporate and media establishment to remove him. It is probable, however, that this will in fact double or triple Rumble’s user base over the next few months.
One flaw with the platform is that it is a digital platform and is less interactive than, say, Parler or Gab, unless you are producing video content. For non-producers it is more an entertainment platform they access than a platform they use to express themselves. People can watch video content on Trump’s account without subscribing to the platform.
As for President Trump, just how this enables him to connect to his user base and the world remains to be seen. Early promises of a Trump social media platform resulted in a solo micro blog that was abandoned and nothing more. It is not known if this move constitutes his final decision as to how he will approach having a social media presence, but the fact he has an account on Rumble may not necessarily mean his plans to create a new social media platform have been abandoned.
Our own effort to create a new social media platform, called “Upadaria”, as an e-learning, e-commerce, and social networking platform using gamification and a fictional future history, has shown the complexity in creating even a basic platform targeting tens of thousands of niche users. In our case, we are targeting more cosmopolitan but socially conservative Christians who enjoy gamification and immersive learning experiences and who desire to excell at life.
This audience is perhaps a few million people in the US and a few million abroad, especially considering this is a paid subscription based, not a free, platform. Creating a platform to reach the kinds of numbers Trump needs to make it viable is of a much higher magnitude in complexity. Our platform has absolutely no delusions we can become some form of alternative to big tech platforms or a minor competitor, but Trump will aim precisely at that goal and higher.
The work to build a platform that might be competitive with a major platform would be immense and simply having a lot funding would not necessarily shorten the development time. Trump’s platform, if it comes to pass, must be far more robust than our “Upadaria” platform because his target audience is at least 50 million people. The building of the features and user interface, security, hosting, and data infrastructure for such a task, not to mention the moderation and governance tools and manpower, may prove the biggest hurdles for Trump’s team.
We would not discount the notion a Trump social media platform is coming but its development may take more time than perhaps Trump’s digital team have estimated. It may also be far more expensive than projected with little in the way of a funding model to make it financially self-sustaining within even a few years. However, it is possible this new platform will have free and paid membership levels and, with Trump at the helm and all the personalities that would follow, it may be financially viable.
So far, the move to Rumble is perhaps a small opening salvo in the battle between alt tech and big tech for dominance of the digital space. Alt tech is not merely a David to a Goliath, however, it is a fly versus an elephant at this stage. Trump’s move to Rumble may actually, but it remains to be seen, make alt tech more like a David versus a Goliath within a few years.