In a significant event leading up to the Republican presidential primary debate in August, Rumble, the rising video platform, was granted exclusive rights to provide a free online broadcast. However, the thrill of this exclusive coverage was swiftly downplayed when it became apparent that Google search had buried references to Rumble’s stream of the debate, sparking concern for proponents of free speech and critics of Google’s monopoly power.
According to a report by The Intercept, prior to the debate, Google’s Civics and US Campaigns team had expressively inquired about the RNC’s live stream plans, seeking to align it with the public’s search for a live event.
In the spirit of cooperation, the RNC responded by indicating the live streaming would occur on Rumble. Despite providing Google with this crucial information, users searching for the debate stream on Google were ushered to links from YouTube, Fox News, and various news reports instead of Rumble, causing the platform to miss out on expected traffic.
“Rumble is in possession of an email where Google said they feature livestreams of major election events in Search,” Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski posted on X. “But when the Republican debate livestream belonged to a competitor, there’s a ‘miscommunication’ and it doesn’t happen.”
This unceremonious disappearance of Rumble’s link from Google search results led to an outcry from Rumble’s team. Its General Counsel, Michael Ellis, viewed it as an exemplification of Google’s longstanding practice of suppressing competition to propagate its own platform, YouTube. He argued that this action was not merely a case of “miscommunication” as Google had suggested, but egregious favoritism.
This incident holds significant implications for digital free speech and competition in the online sphere. It raises important questions about the role and responsibilities of dominant internet platforms in relation to smaller, emerging entities. …