Actor and comedian Russell Brand has said the British government is attempting to silence him, in his first statement since a string of sexual assault allegations against him were published by UK media last Saturday.
“By now you’re probably aware that the British government have asked Big Tech platforms to censor our online content and that some online platforms have complied with that request,” Brand said in a video statement released late on Friday on platforms including X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Rumble.
The performer was demonetized by YouTube earlier this week following the publication of a years-long investigation by The Times, Sunday Times and broadcaster Channel 4 into claims of sexual misconduct and rape. Brand denies all allegations.
“It’s clear that these [mainstream media organizations] collaborate in constructing narratives,” Brand further alleged in the three-minute video. “Whether it’s about the war or the pandemic, and of course there are other examples. It’s very clear to me that we have to be very, very cautious indeed.”
He attributed his blacklisting from YouTube to the UK's “online safety bill,” which, he explained, “grants sweeping surveillance and censorship powers.” The bill has passed through parliament but has not received royal assent, and is thus not yet enshrined in UK law.
Brand’s allegations of a government-backed censorship campaign against him comes days after Chris Pavlovski, CEO of the Rumble video streaming platform, issued an open letter in response to what he referred to as a “deeply inappropriate” enquiry from UK MP Caroline Dinenage. The Conservative lawmaker had asked if Rumble intended to follow YouTube in removing Brand’s ability to generate income from content published on the website.
“Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel-culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission,” Pavlovski wrote. It has been estimated that Brand had been earning about £1 million ($1.2 million) per year from YouTube prior to his suspension, distributing content to a subscriber base in excess of 6.6 million people. His initial video, in which he first referenced the allegations, has been viewed more than more 2.3 million times in the past seven days.
Brand added in the video that Rumble had demonstrated a “clear commitment to free speech” and that he intends to continue to discuss “deep state and corporate collusion” on the platform.
He made no direct mention of the allegations against him, other than to thank supporters for “questioning the information you are being presented with” during what he called an “extraordinary and distressing week.”