Gab is being mandated by Google to remove its “objectionable user-generated content” within seven days or the free speech social network will be banned from the Google Play store.
Google claims Gab’s app is in violation of the Google Play Store’s User Generated Content policy because apps “that feature or host objectionable UGC” are not permitted.
However, Gab has no ability to control which servers or content users visit and allows its users to browse through the decentralized network Fediverse, an online universe of interconnected servers which hosts users generated content.
Google’s own Chrome browser violates the content policy, allowing users to browse user-generated content and does not require the app developer to moderate the content.
Just minutes after Gab hit number one trending on the Google Play Store, Google threatened Gab with the insurmountable seven-day ultimatum.
Gab, which has become the refuge network for prominent conservatives banned or demonetized by tech giants Twitter and Facebook, will be unable to moderate user-generated content since the social media platform is reliant on Fediverse. The Gab app will, therefore, almost certainly be banned from the Google Play store July 19.
Following the precedent set by Google’s demands on Gab, web browsers, social networks and other apps that feature users generated content will likely be subject to the same requirements and face removal from the Google Play Store if the tech giant determines its content is “objectionable.”
The stipulation of Google Play Store’s User Generated Content policy which states apps “that develop a reputation among users of being a place where such [objectionable] content thrives, will also be removed from Google Play,” inherently makes apps a target for media smears, Gab argues.
In response to Google’s ultimatum, Gab maintains its app does not host or feature user-generated content and is simply and ActivityPub client which allows users to connect to servers running open-source Activity Pub software.
Google’s enforcement of its user policy arbitrarily enforced as a means to unlawfully discriminate against the platform which is primarily used by conservatives, Gab argues.
Google is currently under investigation by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as regulators are negotiating to divide oversight of the tech industry between the two agencies.
Last month, the House Judiciary Committee also a “top-to-bottom” antitrust investigation of Google, Facebook and Amazon, making antitrust behavior of big tech a bipartisan issue. While Congress does not have the regulatory authority of the DOC or the FTC, it could outline potential legislation and subpoena tech executives and documents pertaining to big tech censorship, competition and privacy practices.