by Shelby Talcott
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is suing Google over allegations that the tech giant violated her right to free speech.
The Democratic Hawaii representative is claiming that Google censored her presidential campaign, according to a complaint filed Thursday. Google suspended her campaign’s advertising for several hours in June, The Hill reported, and Gabbard‘s complaint stated that it is a violation of free speech.
“Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values,” Gabbard told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
“This is a threat to free speech, fair elections and to our democracy, and I intend to fight back on behalf of all Americans.”
Tulsi Now, Inc., Gabbard’s campaign committee, is also suing Google for various violations under California law.
“With this lawsuit, Tulsi seeks to stop Google from further intermeddling in the 2020 United States Presidential Election,” the complaint reads.
Gabbard’s campaign stated that Google suspended her search advertisement account soon after the first debate finished.
“In the hours following the 1st debate, while millions of Americans searched for info about Tulsi, Google suspended her search ad account w/o explanation,” Gabbard tweeted Thursday. “It is vital to our democracy that big tech companies can’t affect the outcome of elections.”
3/3 – Google’s discrimination against our campaign reveals the danger of their dominance & how the dominance of big tech over public discourse threatens core American values. They threaten our democracy & #Tulsi will fight back on behalf of all Americans. https://t.co/n7Y7y2dQZ9
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) July 25, 2019
Google said that the brief suspension was automated and due to unusual large “spending changes,” according to a statement given to The Hill.
“We have automated systems that flag unusual activity on all advertiser accounts — including large spending changes — in order to prevent fraud and protect our customers,” a Google spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In this case, our system triggered a suspension and the account was reinstated shortly thereafter. We are proud to offer ad products that help campaigns connect directly with voters, and we do so without bias toward any party or political ideology.”
This is the first time that a presidential candidate has sued a large technology company over First Amendment violations.
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Shelby Talcott is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tulsi Gabbard” by Tulsi Gabbard.