Censor-Free Social Network Contests Google Ban

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Banned by the mainstream app stores, a social network that caters to Trump supporters and global dissidents alike brought a federal complaint Thursday against Google. 

With no restrictions in place to limit hate speech or pornographic content, the budding social network Gab AI is just as frowned upon at the Apple App Store as it is in the Google Play Store.

Focusing only on the latter company in its lawsuit, however, the Silicon Valley startup attributes its treatment by Google to monopolistic tendencies.

Gab says the ban against its social network serves two objectives for Google: limiting competition to its struggling Google Plus platform, and protecting the dominant force in the social-media market, Twitter, which is a commercial partner of Google’s. 

Despite its Play Store blackball, Gab notes that it has attracted more than a quarter of a million users since its launch last year.

The company gets its name from its Anguilla-based web domain, Gab.ai, which also attracts businesses in the artificial-intelligence field trying to capitalize on the abbreviation potential.

Though Gab’s CEO is an avowed Trump supporter, Andrew Torba, the complaint notes that chief technology officer Ekrem Buyukkaya is just as staunchly anti-Trump as a Turkish Muslim.

The site purports to offer an alternative to what some critics decry as rampant viewpoint-based censorship at Twitter, where leading conservative figures like Milo Yiannopoulos have been banned for purported hate speech.

Adapting features from the Reddit social forum, Gab allows users to like and dislike posts, follow one another, and leave comments on posts and profiles.

The company’s 48-page complaint is rife with allusions to several high-profile controversies that have beset Google as late, including its firing of the memo-writing programmer James Damore and the many judgments it has faced for anticompetitive practices.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a $14.52 million award in 2015 against Google, for example, over its failure to license patented technology to competitors like Microsoft on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms.

Such access is required by Google’s 2013 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that resulted from its acquisition of Motorola.

Earlier this week the European Union’s antitrust czar announced a record $2.7 billion fine against Google for illegally steering users toward its comparison-shopping website.

“Google has abused its market dominance in its search engine by promoting its own shopping comparison service in its search results, and demoting its competitors,” EU Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Brussels.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It has denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition.”

Gab is represented by A. Jordan Rushie with the Rendazza Legal Group.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody is presiding over the case, which alleges violations of the Sherman and Clayton acts, as well as tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.

Representatives of Google have not returned a request for comment.

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