The social media site Gab.ai is accusing Google of violating 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 alleges 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.”
Google banned the social media platform from the Google Play Store last month, citing violations of Google's hate speech policies. Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, had become an active user on Gab after a succession of companies refused to service his site. Gab also counts other controversial right-wing figures among its users, including Milo Yiannopoulos and Andrew “weev” Auernheimer.
In a statement, Google described the lawsuit as "baseless," and said it would defend its decision in court, if necessary. "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," Google said. "This developer is welcome to appeal the suspension if they've addressed the policy violations and are compliant with our Developer Program Policies."
Gab has raised more than $1 million in contributions since July, according to the complaint.
Gab filed its complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The company said it moved to Pennsylvania this month.