In July, Representative Tulsi Gabbard took part in a Democratic presidential debate, which resulted in her name becoming the most searched on Google. But Google quickly suspended her campaign's Google Ads account. This action and its timing were particularly suspect and harmful at a time when Gabbard's campaign was gaining momentum.
Gabbard then decided to sue Google, alleging an attempt by the tech giant to influence elections through censorship, and she continues to drive this point home as she campaigns for the nomination in the 2020 US presidential election. In the court filing submitted in July, the representative claimed that Google's decision came as a reaction to her policies regarding Big Tech: namely, she is in favor of applying net neutrality to the likes of Google, and is generally critical of the kind of power these companies have, and the way they use it.
At the time, Google denied these accusations and went for its go-to explanation for any controversial ban or content removal, especially those that smack of political bias: the giant said it was an automated tool that decided to suspend Gabbard's account, but gave no details – including whether humans were involved at any point in the process.
As now Gabbard continues her campaign, she continues to raise awareness of the problem tech companies can represent. Unlike most other Democrats, who think social media platform's insufficient level of content policing leaves them vulnerable to becoming conduits for bad actors, who then influence and undermine democracy – Gabbard sees this potential in the giant companies themselves.
On Sunday, she posted a campaign video on Twitter and tweeted:
We need to stand up to protect everyone’s right to the freedom of speech / the First Amendment. I may not agree with what you say, but I will put my life on the line to protect your right to say it. As president, I will protect all Americans from censorship by powerful tech corps pic.twitter.com/BjWYs3foP8
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) September 22, 2019
“We need to stand up to protect everyone's right to the freedom of speech/the First Amendment. I may not agree with what you say, but I will put my life on the line to protect your right to say it. As president, I will protect all Americans from censorship by powerful tech corps.”
In the video, Gabbard is heard saying that her lawsuit against Google came not only because of the damage the company did to her campaign, but because the incident was a symptom of a growing trend, “where these big tech monopolies are infringing on our public discourse and really in our fair elections.”
Gabbard pointed out that the fact Google didn't hesitate to suspend the account of a member of Congress and a presidential candidate, means that “regular” people and their right to free speech are just as endangered – if with fewer resources to protect themselves.
“This is a danger to all of us. Can you imagine if Google's CEO was a conservative Republican who was shutting down Democrat voices that they disagree with?,” Gabbard asked. “Can you imagine how up in arms ‘progressives' would be if it were their voices being shut down?”