Gab, an independent social network popular with conservative activists, has filed a lawsuit in a federal court accusing Google of abusing its power after the search giant removed the upstart from its app store.
Last month, Gab complained that it had been banned from Google’s Play Store following complaints that the service had become a haven for hate speech and Nazis. Gab drew additional attention when the founder of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer decided to at least temporarily make Gab his new home while he struggled to keep Stormer online after several internet services revoked their support.
The ensuing publicity did accelerate the success of Gab’s crowdfunding campaign. Gab, which says it now has 250,000 users, has said it has also been rejected numerous times from Apple’s App Store.
In the lawsuit, first reported by the Washington Post, Gab claims that Google violated antitrust law by giving its app the boot. Gab’s founders insist that the site is not political in nature, but rather a refuge for free speech across the spectrum.
“Google is the biggest threat to the free flow of information,” Gab cofounder and CEO Andrew Torba said in a statement given to the Post. “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.”
In the lawsuit, Torba restates many of his larger critiques about Silicon Valley’s attitudes toward conservatives.
The filing describes Torba, a former participant in Y Combinator who was banned from its alumni network, as “a supporter of President Donald Trump whose fervent advocacy of his policies and positions have had the predictable result of his being labeled, inappropriately, with the various labels and epithets that are now the common currency of political mudslinging.”
It also notes of his Y Combinator ban: “This experience confirmed for Mr. Torba his perception, which animated his involvement with Gab, that conservative voices are routinely suppressed in social media and in a wide variety of contexts where the dominant, and overwhelmingly liberal figures and institutions of Silicon Valley hold sway.”
Gab, which says its headquarters is now in Pennsylvania, filed its complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Post tweeted this response from Google: