Twitter alternative Gab.AI may be a bit newer to the tech sphere than Google, but that doesn’t mean the microblogging site is willing to get pushed around by the behemoth.
A while back, Google removed the Gab app from its Google Play Store, citing “hate speech” that takes place on the site. However, Gab.AI is fighting back.
Free speech social media site Gab AI, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Google for violations of the Clayton Act and Sherman Act. The lawsuit stems from Google removing Gab from its Google Play Android app store on spurious grounds of “hate speech” arising from posts by users.
Google did not accuse Gab of hate speech, but used third party content as a pretext to justify its own business ends. Gab, a startup, aims to bring “folks together of all races, religions, and creeds who share in the common ideals of Western values, individual liberty and the free exchange and flow of information.”
According to Gab’s attorney, Marc Randazza, Google’s conduct is a straightforward violation of the antitrust laws “Google Play and Android have monopoly power in the app store market, and Google’s apps YouTube and Google+ compete directly against Gab. 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.”
Randazza noted, “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.”
Unfortunately, this is the nature of the internet these days. Once the bastion of freedom, the internet giants that used to thumb their nose at authoritarianism have now embraced what they once hated. Like so many others, they simply appear to have been more bothered by authoritarianism as administered by others than by the concept itself.
Kind of pathetic, actually.
Gab.AI offers an alternative to Twitter, one that doesn’t seek to limit what you can say. As someone who has had a Twitter ban with no indication of just what I was being banned for, I can understand the allure of Gab.AI. After all, Twitter has fully gulped the social justice Kool-Aid. If you refuse to back down from the social justice jihadis, Twitter isn’t exactly a safe space.
And that’s why Google’s removal of Gab’s app is problematic.
While Google is a private company that has a right to do what it wishes with its property, that doesn’t mean what it’s doing is right. With so few operating system options, Google has an outsized advantage in the marketplace, for which Gab.AI is feeling the ramifications.
As a non-lawyer, I’m not sure that Gab.AI can win, but with the way the tech industry has shaken out, we can only hope what we see will be a pro-liberty decision.
However, I won’t hold my breath.