- Canadian video-sharing platform Rumble is suing Google over claims the tech giant is “unfairly rigging its search algorithm” to preference YouTube videos in its search results.
- Rumble is a direct rival to YouTube, and has become popular with conservative US figures who say they are being censored by established tech platforms.
- The lawsuit indicates that Google and other major tech players may face antitrust headaches from smaller, conservative-friendly rivals.
- Rumble’s lawsuit accuses the tech giant of “willfully and unlawfully created and maintained a monopoly in the online video-sharing platform market.”
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Video-sharing site Rumble has accused Google of “unfairly rigging its search algorithm” to favor YouTube’s videos in search results, marking the tech giant’s latest in a series of antitrust headaches.
Rumble, based in Toronto, filed a lawsuit in California on Monday claiming that Google’s actions, including unfair search algorithms and the pre-installation of the YouTube app on Android devices, had cost it viewers and advertising revenue.
The complaint reads: “Google, through its search engine, was able to wrongfully divert massive traffic to YouTube, depriving Rumble of the additional traffic, users, uploads, brand awareness and revenue it would have otherwise received.”
Rumble has become popular with conservatives in the past year or so, encouraged by Republican congressman Devin Nunes and other conservative figures. The company says it has more than 2 million creators using the site.
Influential right-wingers in the US have taken an aggressive stance against established US tech firms such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon, a position lately intensified by the platforms teaming up to essentially block right-wing social messaging platform Parler.
Currently Rumble’s list of most-watched videos include conservative political commentator Dan Bongino, Fox presenter Sean Hannity, and conservative YouTubers Diamond and Silk. Its CEO, Chris Pavlovski, regularly posts updates on Twitter about right-wing figures joining the platform.
In its complaint, Rumble accuses Google “willfully and unlawfully created and maintained a monopoly in the online video-sharing platform market in at least two ways.”
It adds: “First, by manipulating the algorithms by which searched-for-video results are listed, Google insures that the videos on YouTube are listed first, and that those of its competitors…are listed way down the list…
“Second, by pre-installation of the YouTube app as the default online video-sharing app on Google smart phones, and by entering into anti-competitive, illegal tying agreements with other smartphone manufacturers to do the same.”
The firm indicated it was seeking damages of at least $2 billion.
Rumble’s complaint comes shortly after Parler sued Amazon, and marks a potentially troubling new antitrust for the major platforms. Amazon had hosted Parler’s service on its cloud service AWS, but booted the firm off after the US Capitol riots last week. Parler claimed in its subsequent suit that Amazon was behaving anti-competitively. Parler’s lawsuit indicates that sites and apps banned or penalized by the US tech giants for hate or violent speech are willing to use the emerging antitrust sentiment in court.
A Google spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal: “We will defend ourselves against these baseless claims.”
Business Insider approached Rumble and Google for further comment.