Gab, a social media site favored by the so-called alt-right as an alternative to Twitter, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for booting it from the Play Store.
“Google Play and Android have monopoly power in the app store market, and Google’s apps YouTube and Google+ compete directly against Gab,” Marc Randazza, Gab’s attorney, said in a statement. “Google’s intimate partnership with Twitter, which also competes against Gab, makes Google’s control of all Android apps available through the Play Store a serious restraint of trade issue.”
The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Google violated antitrust laws by removing the Gab app.
"This claim is baseless and we're happy to defend our decision in court if need be," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "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.
“This is a long-standing rule and clearly stated in our developer policies. This developer is welcome to appeal the suspension if they've addressed the policy violations and are compliant with our Developer Program Policies."
Gab was launched as an alternative social media platform for those who had been suspended from Twitter and others who believed that mainstream sites were suppressing conservative voices. It’s become popular in alt-right circles and has attracted users such as Milo Yiannopoulos, who was kicked off Twitter last year for a bullying campaign against a black actress.
Google suspended Gab from its app store last month in the days following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly. Google said the site was in violation of the app store’s hate-speech policy.
But Gab spokesman Utsav Sanduja told The Hill last month that the company suspects Google’s action was related to their criticism of the internet search giant for firing a programmer who wrote a controversial internal memo about the tech industry’s gender disparities.
Randazza said Friday, “Regardless of Google’s pretextual justification for removing Gab, the effect is that they used their monopoly power in the app store to block an upstart competitor it in the social media app market, to the detriment of millions of consumers who value free speech.”