The First Amendment is under attack from all sides, but this plucky little startup is taking a stand, and picking a fight with the Leviathan of the internet; Google.
The social media network site Gab.ai is accusing Google of violating United States federal antitrust laws when the tech giant booted Gab from the Google Play Store, according to lawsuit filed Thursday. The legal action is the latest salvo in an escalating battle between right-leaning technologists and leaders against Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Google.
Gab is alleging in the lawsuit that “Google deprives competitors, on a discriminatory basis, of access to the App Store, which an essential facility or resource.”
“Google is the biggest threat to the free flow of information,” Gab chief executive Andrew Torba said in a statement. “Gab started to fight against the big tech companies in the marketplace, and their monopolistic conduct has forced us to bring the fight to the courtroom.” (Related: Mathematician: Google Bias Against Conservative Websites — Is Real — And Much Worse Than Anyone Thought)
The Gab social network was founded as a response to increasingly-stringent policies regarding topics or opinions disapproved of by the “entirely left-leaning Big Social monopoly”, according to Gab Founder and CEO Andrew Torba. It’s not exactly news that Facebook curates user content, favoring liberal ideologies, and suppresses conservative opinions. Likewise, Twitter consistently policed conservative speech and banned political pundits unpopular on the left, while leaving the ISIS recruitment accounts for hackers to deal with.
Google, particularly its video platform, YouTube, has been more and more liberal in enforcement of “hate speech” policies. To some extent, the crackdown was a response to concerns over a large-scale advertising boycott, and is an understandable action for a for-profit company at risk of losing a primary revenue source.
Of course, there are limits on what a company is permitted to do in efforts to make money, and monopolies are a non-starter in the U.S. When Google removed Gab from the Play Store, it opened itself up to the antitrust suit, since Google+ social media platform is a direct competitor to Gab. With the Play Store being the only market for Android apps, it’s hard to refute the monopolistic control Google has over what is and is not allowed to exist, and by extension, what is allowed to compete with Google’s own products. (Related: Google Hit With Record Fine of 2.4 Billion Euros in Antitrust Case)
Gab’s written mission statement is to “put people and free speech first,” which means that users are free to express whatever ideas they want, and other users are free to mock the stupid shit people say. Free expression inherently comes with the risk of people expressing ideas that society has largely outgrown, including all manner of hate speech.
Google’s effort to use ideas expressed by Gab’s users as justification for removing it from the Play Store as “hate speech” does make one wonder how Google has managed to ensure nobody on Hangouts, Google+, or the Messages app on Android phones never communicate unpleasant ideas. This suggests the company did manage, that, else one would expect those apps to have been removed as well. (Related: Google employee says the company is intolerant of different viewpoints. So they fired him. Proving his point.)
Free speech is increasingly unpopular in the U.S., particularly among students at the country’s more liberal universities, like University of California Berkeley. Free speech has been deemed by much of the left as an alt-right ideology at this point, to the point that an Antifa thug allegedly stabbed a woman at Berkeley during Ben Shapiro’s speech on campus yesterday. Tech giants joining in the fight against non-leftist opinions is making for some interesting legal cases.
Torba described the suit as “a David and Goliath fight,” with the reminder, “David won.”
(Just going to leave this here: Google: Tampons Kept in Men’s Restrooms – Because You Know…. ‘Some Men Menstruate’)
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