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Google Pressed in Lawsuit to Dump Telegram Just Like Parler

Joel Rosenblatt
·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- A former U.S. ambassador wants Google to do to Telegram what it did to Parler.

Marc Ginsberg sued the Alphabet Inc. unit Monday, asking a California court to require it to remove the Telegram Messenger app from the Google Play Store because it facilitates violence, extremism and anti-Semitism.

Telegram, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the inauguration of Joe Biden as president, has been used to threaten, encourage and coordinate racist violence, claims Ginsberg, who was Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Morocco. He pointed out that, after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Google suspended Parler from its app store because a number of its right-wing users expressed support for the siege and further violence.

“Google has not taken any action against Telegram comparable to the action it has taken against Parler to compel Telegram to improve its content moderation policies,” Ginsberg’s suit says. He filed a similar complaint on Jan. 17 against Apple Inc., which had also pulled Parler from its app store after the riot.

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder, said last week that the company’s moderators had removed hundreds of posts in the wake of the Capitol riot and that calls for violence wouldn’t be tolerated.

“Telegram employs a robust moderation system,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “As a part of the company’s longstanding commitment to anti-terrorism and combating abuse, Telegram collaborates with industry leaders, governments and policymakers worldwide by providing daily transparency reports,” as well as through the use of both automated and manual content monitoring.

Google didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

‘Parler Refugees’

Amazon.com Inc. cited its own concerns about violent content on Parler in pulling the plug on the platform’s web-hosting service. The actions taken against Parler, as well the banning of former President Donald Trump and others from Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have spurred a wide-ranging debate over the tech industry’s control and responsibilities over speech.

A channel on Telegram is dedicated to “Parler refugees.” Some Telegram users urged followers to drop plans for a second protest in Washington in support of Trump in favor of surprise attacks nationwide, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also accuses Telegram of serving as a platform for the sale of illegal and controlled substances, including LSD and cocaine.Ginsberg, who is Jewish and was raised in Israel, says in the lawsuit that he was the target of two assassination attempts due to his religious beliefs. His Coalition for a Safer Web, also listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says it pushes social media platforms to end their tolerance of anti-Semitism and enabling of extremist groups.

Read More: Telegram CEO Says App to Start Generating Revenue Next Year

(Updates with statement by Telegram in sixth paragraph.)

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