Tulsi Gabbard sues Google for suspending her ads after first Dem debate
July 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – While most of the voices accusing tech giants of political discrimination are conservative, some left-of-center figures have been caught up in the controversy as well, including 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard.
Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, announced Thursday that she’s suing Google for suspending her campaign’s Google Ads account for several hours after the first Democrat primary debate.
The New York Times reported that following the debate, Gabbard was “briefly” the most-searched presidential candidate on Google, and the campaign wanted to seize that momentum with some ad buys, but found their account suspended.
“For hours, Tulsi’s campaign advertising account remained offline while Americans everywhere were searching for information about her,” Gabbard’s campaign charged. “During this time, Google obfuscated and dissembled with a series of inconsistent and incoherent reasons for its actions. In the end, Google never explained to us why Tulsi’s account was suspended.”
The campaign gave the Times emails indicating that Google initially suspended them for “problems with billing information or violations of our advertising policies,” then sent a notice several hours later reinstating the account and claiming the temporary suspension was meant to verify billing information and compliance with Google’s policies.
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda told the Times that the company’s automated systems, which are designed to catch “unusual” activity such as large spending changes, “triggered a suspension,” but “the account was reinstated shortly thereafter.”
“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 declared 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.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Google engaging in further election interference and a minimum of $50 million in damages. It also alleges that her campaign emails found their way into Gmail spam folders at “a disproportionately high rate” compared with those from other Democrat primary campaigns.
Gabbard has drawn some interest for ostensibly being more moderate than the rest of the Democrat field. As recently as 2004, she opposed same-sex “marriage,” but is now a doctrinaire liberal on abortion, LGBT issues, and even decriminalizing prostitution.
Since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, Google has been under fire for allegedly intensifying efforts to slant their platforms and services in favor of Trump’s opponents and other left-wing causes in a variety of ways, including blacklists, biased algorithms, and more. Concerns have also been raised that figures within Google and other tech companies have been “subverted” by foreign governments.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai told Congress last month that he considers “unregulated Silicon Valley tech giants” today’s “greatest threat to a free and open internet.” Earlier this month, Trump announced that he was “directing my administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to tech censorship.” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, has proposed legislation that would require social media platforms to certify their political neutrality with the FCC if they want to keep their congressionally granted immunity from legal liability for what they allow users to post.