A Toronto-based video platform has joined governments and regulators in accusing one of the world’s largest technology companies of using its market power to improperly squeeze out competitors.
Rumble, which launched in 2013 with an emphasis on pet and baby videos but which has more recently courted conservatives angered by labelling and censoring of posts on other social media apps, sued Google LLC this week, accusing the search giant of unfairly favouring its YouTube video platform.
In the lawsuit, Rumble alleges Google engaged in practices including “rigging its search algorithms purposefully and unlawfully to always give preference to Google’s YouTube video-sharing platform over Rumble (and other platforms) in Google search results,” according to a document filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The filing says a Google search for online videos even listed links to YouTube as the first results in a search that specified Rumble: “dog videos on rumble.”
The Canadian firm is seeking damages it claims it has sustained “and continues to sustain as a proximate result of Google’s antitrust violations.” Rumble is also seeking “injunctive relief to prevent Google from continuing unlawfully to maintain its monopoly in the relevant market — online video-sharing platforms — through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.”
Rumble’s lawsuit claims its users have also been hurt, since revenue generated from videos and advertisements on the Canadian platform are shared with the content creators.
In an emailed statement, a Google spokesperson called the claims “baseless” and said the firm plans to defend itself against them.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant is already facing probes in the United States, where it has been accused of improperly wielding its dominance in search and advertising.
In October, the U.S. Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed an antitrust lawsuit “to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms.”
Participating states included Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.
Chris Pavlovski, chief executive of Rumble, referred to the state and federal allegations that the tech giant is improperly using monopoly power in a statement about his firm’s decision to pursue Google in court.
“In this case, we have indisputable proof that it does so for its YouTube platform, harming competition, competitors and consumers,” Pavlovski said.
Rumble bills itself as “one of the most respected independent and privately owned companies in the online video sharing platform industry” and says its business model “is premised upon helping small and independent video creators.”
The company gained recent attention after it made it a policy to refuse to curb free speech or act as an arbiter of misinformation on the platform.
Pavlovski was quoted in a New York Times story in November saying that while the platform prohibits explicit content, terrorist propaganda and harassment, he didn’t want to “pretend to sit here and know what the truth is or have the capabilities to know how to do that.”
In the article, he likened Rumble’s growth to a “rocket ship” since the summer and following the election that month.