A California judge says video service Rumble may be moving into the early stages of an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Rumble sued Google in 2021 alleging that it supported its own YouTube video platform in search results and the Android operating system. Google requested the court to split the suit’s arguments and dismiss substantial parts of the argument as well as strike parts of the suit relating to Android app preinstallation. Judge Heywood Gilliam declined to do so last weekend, putting the case on track to proceed – though it could still be dismissed before reaching trial.
Rumble’s suit overlaps with many of the ongoing Big Tech controversies. The company takes aim at Google’s deals with Android phone makers, who generally agree to preinstall bundles of Google apps and limit non-Google app preinstallations or changes to the operating system, sometimes such as this. that the Antitrust Watchdog has found illegal. It also alleges that Google incorrectly loads the top results of searches for videos with YouTube links, burying rumble results – similar to complaints made by “vertical” search engine providers in past decades.
“The success of Rumble … could and should have been as a direct result of Google’s illegal, competitive, exclusionary and monopolistic behavior,” the complaint said.
Rumble is also part of a conservative-friendly web ecosystem that has catered (with varying levels of exclusivity) to right-wing users who claim they have been censored on larger platforms like Google. It filed its lawsuit around the same time that the alternative social network parlor attempted to sue Amazon on antitrust grounds, but while that suit made some fairly tough claims about competition, the rumble plays outweighed Google’s ecology. Played on widely accepted concerns about Tantra. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have pushed for legislation that could limit the “self-preference” described in the complaint.
In response to Rumble’s lawsuit, Google alleges that Rumble content is ranked as high as it deserves. “Rival search engines like Microsoft Bing, Yahoo Search, and DuckDuckGo each return results similar to those of Google — they also rank YouTube’s videos ahead of Rumble,” it says. “Google endeavors to return search results that are most likely to satisfy consumers, even if such results include content found on Google’s YouTube service.”
Judge Gilliam says Google’s arguments weren’t enough to warrant setting aside a significant portion of Rumble’s case. But whether they survive a subsequent motion for summary judgment or warrant for trial, Gilliam says, “is a matter of later stage of the case.”