Citing hate speech, Google suspends social media site favored by alt-right from app store

Citing hate speech, Google suspends social media site favored by alt-right from app store
© Getty Images

Google has removed Gab, a social media service favored by right-wing circles, from its app store for violating the service’s policy on hate speech.

Gab made the announcement in a tweet on Thursday night.

Gab was founded as an alternative to Twitter for those who “believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The site has attracted right-wing internet celebrities who have been banned by Twitter, like former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, and those who believe mainstream social media sites are suppressing conservative viewpoints.

"In order to be on the Play Store, social networking apps need to demonstrate a sufficient level of moderation, including for content that encourages violence and advocates hate against groups of people," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

"This is a long-standing rule and clearly stated in our developer policies. Developers always have the opportunity to appeal a suspension and may have their apps reinstated if they've addressed the policy violations and are compliant with our Developer Program Policies."

But Gab spokesman Utsav Sanduja said that the company thinks the move may be related to its criticisms of Google in recent weeks over the firing of James Damore, a programmer who wrote a divisive internal memo on the tech industry’s workforce gender disparity.

“We suspect that this is a form of reprisal from Google,” Sanduja said in a phone interview.

Gab has been on the Google Play store for months, so it’s concerning that it is just now being booted off, Sanduja said. He also noted that their app has been rejected from the Apple store nine times because of that company’s hate speech policy.

“It’s not like Google didn’t know that Apple rejected us for these reasons,” he said. “So they allowed us because they knew that we were following the rules.”

Google and other internet platforms have intensified efforts to separate themselves from hate groups following the white supremacist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Sanduja said “it doesn’t make sense” that Google would suddenly be concerned with complaints over hate speech.

A spokeswoman for Google was not immediately able to comment.

Google’s hate speech policy states, “We don't allow apps that advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

- This report was updated at 1:39 p.m.