Social site, Gab.ai, which is described as “digital safe space for the far right” or the “alt-right’s very own Twitter,” is suing Google parent Alphabet for alleged violations of antitrust law. The company filed the suit after their Android app was removed from Google Play.
According to Gab.ai’s complaint, the app wasn’t allowed to appear on Apple’s iOS App Store. Gab’s app was supposedly approved for Google Play in May 2017. But, according to the complaint, Google notified Gab back in August that the app was being suspended for violating Google Play’s developer terms.
According to Gab, their mission is to “put people and free speech first.” They are asserting that their objective is to bring together “folks together of all races, religions, and creeds who share in the common ideals of Western values, individual liberty and the free and flow of information.”
But, there is some argument that the site isn’t at least partly intended as a network for white supremacists and others like them to advocate extreme positions without fear of “censorship.” Gab was founded in 2016 in response to Twitter suspensions of several prominent far-right figures, such as Richard B. Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos.
Even their logo, which is that of a frog, is supposedly a nod to Pepe the frog, which has become associated with white supremacist, anti-Semitic and neo-nazi hate groups. But according t Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, said to an interviewer that it was a “religious reference, a symbol of exodus and rebirth.”
Gab argues that the suspension of that app is Googles way to unfarily sue its market power to censor positions and speech they don’t agree with. The suit, in a larger context, is part of the alt-right’s efforts to push back against perceived Silicon Valley “political correctness.”
Google, by contrast, says that this is a straightforward case of violating developer terms and policies that prohibit apps which “advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Google provided us with the following statement about the lawsuit:
This claim is baseless and we’re happy to defend our decision in court if need be. 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