Free speech social media site Gab AI, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern... 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.”
Gab’s lawsuit, regarding which the company also consulted with attorney Ronald Coleman, comes in the wake of bipartisan outrage over Google’s censorship influence on politics. According to Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba, “Google is the biggest threat to the free flow of information. 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.”
While Coleman is a world renowned First Amendment litigator and notes that “this case has important implications for free speech online” he emphasizes, “Gab’s case is not built upon any novel theory involving the rights of private companies to engage in censorship — just Google’s restraints of trade.”