Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

The Role of Alternative Social Media in the News and Information Environment

3. Prominent accounts on alternative social media sites mostly are individuals, not organizations

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In addition to a site’s ideals, principles, features and policies, the content visitors find on each site is shaped by the accounts that post there. This section examines a sample of 200 of the most prominent accounts – measured by the number of followers – on each of the seven alternative social media sites studied: BitChute, Gab, Gettr, Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social. (As a sample, this is not the top 200 most-followed accounts; see methodology for more details on the sampling method.)

A chart showing that Majority of prominent alternative social media accounts are run by individuals

Out of this sample of 1,400 prominent accounts across the seven sites, 83% are run by individuals. These individuals can either be a single person with a noted affiliation to an organization or one without any organizational affiliation. In most cases, these are individuals without any declared affiliation (74% of all prominent accounts).

Among all prominent accounts on these alternative social media sites, one-in-ten are individuals with a clear past or present affiliation with an organization. This includes everything from journalists like former Fox News and current Sirius XM host Megyn Kelly to activists like Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk, and from political figures like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to conspiracy theorists like Infowars’ Alex Jones.

Accounts run directly by organizations make up 12% of the prominent accounts on these sites. About four-in-ten of these institutional accounts (38%) are affiliated with private companies, such as cryptocurrency-focused corporations, while a similar share (37%) are news organizations. Roughly a quarter of all prominent organizational accounts (26%) are digital-only news outlets like the Daily Caller and Digital Trends, while 10% are outlets such as print news organizations (e.g., The New York Times and New York Post) or TV outlets (e.g., Newsmax). Nonprofit and advocacy organizations like The Heritage Foundation or Project Veritas comprise 14% of these organizational accounts.

Another 5% of all prominent accounts across the seven sites are bots, fan accounts or other types of accounts.

A chart showing that Majority of prominent accounts across most alternative social media sites are connected to individuals without an organizational affiliation

The balance of individual and organizational accounts varies among the different sites. At least nine-in-ten prominent accounts on Truth Social (94%), Gettr (92%) and Gab (91%) are run by individuals, while individuals comprise a much smaller majority of the prominent accounts on Telegram (56%).

On some of these sites, including Truth Social and Gab, virtually all of the prominent individual accounts are people without a stated affiliation. But in other cases, substantial shares of the most prominent accounts are run by people linked to an elected office, news organization or other group.

Rumble has the highest proportion of individual accounts that are affiliated with organizations (21%); this includes political commentators like YouTuber and former Vice Media journalist Tim Pool and The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro as well as politicians like former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Parler (15%) and Gettr (14%) have the next largest shares of prominent accounts that are individuals who are affiliated with an organization. Individuals with affiliations on Parler include U.S. politicians like U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan as well as political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, while those on Gettr include The Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon and politicians like Rep. Elise Stefanik and Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who is currently running for secretary of state there.  

Telegram stands out as having a much higher proportion of organizational accounts than any other alternative social media site. A third of the prominent accounts on Telegram (33%) are official accounts of organizations. These are largely cryptocurrency companies, which use their Telegram channels to communicate with their customers and followers. Rumble has the second-largest share of organizational accounts (21%), which are largely outlets like One America News Network and the Daily Caller. 

Roughly one-quarter of prominent accounts express right-leaning political orientation or support for Trump in profiles

A chart showing that About a quarter of prominent alternative social media accounts link themselves to GOP, Trump

Political appeals are common across the different types of prominent accounts on these sites, but they often are not presented in traditional ideological or partisan language.

To determine the political orientation and other values and identities expressed by these accounts, researchers looked at the banner image, profile photo, bio and other elements of the account profile page. The content of the posts themselves were not assessed.6

About half (54%) of prominent accounts appeal to some kind of value or political orientation in their profiles (the short descriptions that often appear under the account name).

The most common of these appeals was right-leaning: 26% of prominent accounts expressed some kind of right-leaning or pro-Trump sentiment, more of which centered around former President Donald Trump or his “Make America Great Again” movement than around the Republican Party or conservative ideology. One example of a right-leaning orientation is the profile of North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who ran for reelection in a Republican primary contest earlier this year. In the bio of his Telegram account, he identifies himself as a “Conservative, Business Owner [and] Political Activist.” And Catholic priest and anti-abortion activist Father Frank Pavone expresses his pro-Trump sentiments on his Gettr account by including his leadership in “ProLife Voices for Trump” in his bio and wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in his profile photo.

Other values or identities are also common. About one-in-five prominent accounts (21%) express pro-America or patriotic values, while the same share express a religious identity. Smaller shares identify with freedom or liberty as values (7%), express pro-gun or pro-Second Amendment sentiments (6%), or support the set of conspiracy theories known as QAnon (6%). While support for free speech is a primary value the alternative social media sites use to describe themselves, just 4% of the most prominent accounts across the sites mention this in their profiles. Additionally, about one-in-five accounts (22%) express a variety of other values, such as opposition to Big Tech, opposition to mainstream media, and ethnic identity.

Looking across alternative social media sites, it is far more common for prominent accounts to express a political orientation or value or identity appeal on some sites than others. Roughly two-thirds of prominent accounts or more include a value in their profile on Truth Social, Gab, Gettr or Parler. In comparison, fewer than half of accounts on BitChute, Telegram and Rumble express these appeals.

A chart showing that Prominent accounts on Truth Social, Gab most likely to express certain key values

About half of prominent accounts on Truth Social (49%) – a site founded by former President Trump – are right-leaning or express support for Trump in their profiles. The same is true of 44% of accounts on Parler, a site used by organizers to help plan the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. Roughly one-third of Gettr (36%) and Gab (35%) accounts include right-leaning or pro-Trump appeals. Much smaller shares of prominent accounts on Telegram, Rumble or BitChute include this kind of language or iconography.

Religious identities and patriotic appeals are also common on Truth Social and Gab, where about four-in-ten accounts express these values in their profiles.

About one-third of prominent accounts on BitChute have been banned or demonetized by other social media sites

A chart showing that 15% of prominent alternative social media accounts have been banned or demonetized on other social media sites

Former President Donald Trump is likely the most notable person connected with these alternative social media sites to be banned or suspended from more established social media sites: He launched Truth Social after being “indefinitely” or “permanently” suspended from Facebook and Twitter.

But he is not alone. This study found that 15% of prominent accounts on these alternative social media sites had their account on another social media site banned or demonetized (i.e., had their access to revenue-sharing partnerships like advertising revoked).

BitChute is the site with by far the highest percentage of accounts that saw their accounts on other social media sites banned or demonetized, at about one-third of its prominent accounts (35%). Rumble is next, with about one-fifth of its prominent accounts having been previously banned or demonetized elsewhere (22%). And about one-in-ten accounts on Gettr (13%), Gab (12%), Parler (12%) and Telegram (12%) have been banned or demonetized elsewhere.

Despite Trump’s experience, Truth Social has the lowest percentage of banned accounts, at 3%.

About one-in-five prominent alternative social media accounts solicit funds from their followers

A chart showing that Many prominent accounts on BitChute and Rumble ask for donations or offer subscriptions

There are multiple ways for social media content creators to fund their work, from revenue sharing with the site itself to asking their audience to subscribe or offer donations. (Many of the alternative social media sites studied here also ask for donations themselves.)

About one-in-five prominent accounts across the seven sites (19%) turn directly to their followers for support by asking for donations or offering paid subscriptions. A 2020 study found that 41% of popular YouTube news channels also did this.

Prominent accounts that accept donations and subscriptions tend to use external sites to streamline that process. The most common method is subscription sites such as Patreon and (8% of all prominent accounts), while a small share of accounts (3%) also accept cryptocurrency like bitcoin. One-in-ten accounts accept donations from a range of other avenues, including direct donation apps like PayPal or fundraising sites like GoFundMe.

Two sites – BitChute and Rumble – stand out for having particularly large shares of prominent accounts that solicit funds from their followers; these also are the two sites that focus entirely on video content, which often has high production costs. More than half of BitChute accounts (57%) ask for donations, as do about four-in-ten accounts on Rumble (39%). About one-in-five accounts on BitChute (22%) use Patreon, while the same percentage of accounts on Rumble instead opt for, a partner of Rumble.

Some accounts also raise money through selling branded merchandise like T-shirts and mugs to their followers. Across the alternative social media sites studied, 7% of prominent accounts sell branded merchandise. Like donations and subscriptions, this is more common on video-focused sites: About a quarter of prominent accounts on Rumble (24%) sell merchandise, as do 13% on BitChute.

A chart showing that About four-in-ten alternative social media accounts promote their other online accounts

With relatively small user bases on each of the alternative social media sites, just over four-in-ten prominent accounts on alternative social media sites (44%) link to another online presence.

To determine whether accounts promoted any external presence, researchers looked at the links on the account’s profile page. Researchers did not use any search engines or look on other platforms for accounts.

The most common form of this promoted presence is a personal or business website, with 23% of the accounts including it on their profiles. And though alternative social media sites often are viewed as a refuge for those who feel they don’t belong on the more established sites – or were banned from them – about one-in-five of the prominent accounts across sites (19%) still promote the accounts they have on larger sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

An identical share of accounts (19%) also share links to the accounts they have on other alternative social media sites (or in some instances, accounts on the same platform, such as a company with a Telegram account linking to their support account).

A chart showing that Majority of prominent accounts on BitChute, Telegram and Rumble promote other online accounts

Majorities of prominent accounts on three sites – BitChute, Telegram and Rumble – link to an external presence.

Nearly three-quarters of prominent BitChute accounts (72%) link to another online presence, as do just over half on the other video-focused site, Rumble (55%). Accounts on these sites often link to other video sites (28% of BitChute and 33% of Rumble accounts), including more established sites like YouTube and Vimeo. These links include referrals to “backup” accounts – in case their account is banned – or affiliated accounts connected to the same individual or organization (e.g., some organizational accounts link to the personal accounts of their hosts).

Prominent accounts on Rumble are more than twice as likely to promote more established social media sites than alternative ones (44% vs. 16%). On BitChute, meanwhile, established and alternative social media sites are promoted by an equal share of prominent accounts (38% each).

Roughly six-in-ten of the prominent accounts on Telegram also promote links to other online presences in their profile. For example, 31% of prominent accounts promote their websites and 36% link to their other accounts within Telegram. This is partly due to the large presence of cryptocurrency company accounts on the platform, which often link to their business websites and other accounts. Prominent accounts on Telegram are also more likely to link to their online presence on alternative social media sites (39%) than on more established social media sites (26%).

Prominent accounts on Truth Social are the least likely to share links to other online presences, at 12%.

  1. Rumble does not provide a bio section for accounts, so many put this information in their post descriptions. For this site, the five most recent posts were examined.
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