Tulsi Gabbard claims Google suppressed her freedom of expression by shutting down her ad campaign for a few hours.
The United States presidential candidate for the Democrats’ race in 2020 is suing Google following a temporary suspension of her ad campaign towards the end of last month. She considers that the move violated her freedom of expression, Business Insider reports.
“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. This is a threat to free speech, fair elections and to our democracy, and I intend to fight back on behalf of all Americans,” Gabbard said in a statement.
An email by Google that was viewed by The Times announcing her account’s reinstatement mentioned that the company suspended the account for some hours to check on the campaign’s billing information and make sure that it was compliant with their terms of service.
The lawsuit document itself, hosted on the New York Times’ website, claims that “to this day, Google has not provided a straight answer—let alone a credible one—as to why Tulsi’s political speech was silenced” at a point when “millions of people wanted to hear from her.”
The suspension took place during six hours on the night of June 27th, only a day after she appeared in the first two Democratic debates. That day, her name was a hot search term on Google.
Shutting down those ads may have cost her a potential window to acquire a large audience for her candidacy.
“We have automated systems that flag unusual activity on all advertiser accounts information including large spending charges information in order to prevent fraud and protect our customers. 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,” a Google spokesperson said, replying to the accusations.
The lawsuit filed by Gabbard’s campaign seeks an injunction and $50 million in damages from Google for this interruption.