BitChute and Odysee expose millions of viewers to conspiracies, racism and naturalistic violence. Capitalizing on Big Tech’s crackdown on disinformation and the rise of Trump, the sites depict a new media universe — one where COVID-19 is fake, Russia is fighting Nazis in Ukraine, and mass shootings are false flag operations. From the report: A day after the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York last May, video-sharing website BitChute spread a far-right conspiracy theory that the massacre was a so-called false flag operation designed to discredit gun-loving Americans. Three of the site’s top 15 videos that day blamed US federal agents, not the real culprit: a teenage white supremacist who vowed to “kill as many black people as possible” before shooting 13 people, killing 10. Other popular videos uploaded by BitChute users falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer that “literally eats you up” and shared a debunked claim that Microsoft founder Bill Gates caused a global shortage of infant formula.
BitChute got a boost when YouTube, Twitter and Facebook tightened their rules against misinformation and hate speech. BitChute’s upstart competitor, Odysee, has also taken off. Both advertise themselves as havens of free speech, and they are at the forefront of a fast-growing alternative media system that brings once-marginal ideas to millions of people around the world. Searching the two sites for major news topics plunges viewers into a maze of outlandish conspiracy theories, racist slurs and naturalistic violence. According to digital intelligence company Similarweb, their audience has grown since 2019 and they’ve built a loyal following of mostly young men.