2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has announced that she’ll be taking legal action against Google for suspending her search ads account without explanation and claims that the suspension infringed on her free speech.
This is the first time a presidential candidate has sued one of the big tech firms and Gabbard is seeking at least $50 million in damages as well as an injunction against Google to prevent further election meddling.
Gabbard’s complaint says her search ads account was suspended a few hours after the first Democratic presidential debate for several hours. The account was suspended at a time when millions of people were searching for information about Gabbard and during a period where Google Trends stats showed that she was the most searched of all the Democratic candidate.
Gabbard’s complaint also alleges that emails from her campaign were being placed in Gmail spam folders at “a disproportionately high rate” when compared with emails from other Democratic candidates.
The complaint adds that the suspension of the search ads account obstructed Gabbard’s ability to raise money and reach potential voters. According to a statement on Gabbard’s 2020 campaign website, Google provided “a series of inconsistent and incoherent reasons for its actions.”
The statement goes on to call out Google’s dominance of search in the US and highlights how this dominance and control of people’s access to information is a danger to both public discourse and democracy.
Additionally, Gabbard’s statement says that this dominance is one of the reasons she’s been a vocal proponent of breaking up the big tech monopolies.
Google has responded to the complaint by claiming that Gabbard’s search ads account was suspended because an automated system flagged unusual activity on her account with Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda saying:
“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.”
While Gabbard is the first Democratic candidate to file a legal complaint against Google for censoring her voice, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has also previously raised concerns about big tech censorship.
However, unlike Gabbard, who has consistently supported free speech online during her campaign, Warren followed her complaints about big tech censorship by calling for more big tech censorship.
Gabbard’s legal complaint comes after many investigative reports and leaked internal documents have highlighted Google’s political bias. While these reports often show anti-Trump and anti-conservative bias inside Google, Gabbard’s complaint is a stark reminder that Google’s market dominance also allows the company to exercise this bias against specific candidates.
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