Video sharing platform Rumble sues Google, alleges rigging of search results

Video sharing platform Rumble sues Google, alleges rigging of search results
AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File
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Video sharing platform Rumble is suing Google over its alleged abuse of power in using its search engine and mobile operating system to boost YouTube over rival platforms. It is the latest allegation of anti-competitive practice against the tech giant. 

Rumble, which is based in Toronto, has quickly emerged as an alternative video sharing service for mainstream conservatives. The company filed its lawsuit against Google in federal court in California. Rumble alleges in its antitrust suit that Google is “unfairly rigging its search engines” to place YouTube above Rumble in its search results. Rumble alleges that Google’s practice has cost the app significant numbers of viewers and advertising dollars.

The lawsuit also argues that Google’s deals with phone manufacturers to preinstall the YouTube app on devices running Google’s Android operating system have unfairly deprived Rumble of viewers.

“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,” the lawsuit states.

Rumble says that one of its main business models is allowing content creators to license their videos exclusively to the platform, which syndicates to other video services, including YouTube. Rumble pays its content creators a share of the advertising revenue from the videos it syndicates. 

Rumble says that it has to syndicate its videos to YouTube in order to survive, due to the “monopoly Google has obtained for its YouTube platform through its unlawful anti-competitive conduct.” 

“We will defend ourselves against these baseless claims,” a Google spokeswoman said in response, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rumble’s lawsuit cites findings of a Journal investigation from July 2020, which exposed Google’s search results for prioritizing YouTube links over those from rival platforms. Tests conducted by the WSJ found that search results in a large majority of cases featured YouTube videos instead of the same or similar versions of videos posted on other platforms. 

Although Rumble was not featured in the WSJ’s test, the company says in its lawsuit that it conducted its own tests using its videos and includes screenshots of a Google search for “funny dogs on rumble,” which returns a list of videos hosted by YouTube. 

A Google spokeswoman told the WSJ in July that the company does not offer any preference to YouTube or any other provider, but declined to comment on the examples cited by the WSJ. “Our systems use a number of signals from the web to understand what results people find most relevant and helpful for a given query,” she said.

The Rumble lawsuit is the latest legal challenge that Google is facing amid several other antitrust lawsuits in the U.S. Two sets of U.S. states have alleged that the company abused the dominance of its search engine and advertising business. The Justice Department sued the tech giant in October for allegedly using anti-competitive tactics to preserve its monopoly on web searches.

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