- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday charging that Google improperly suspended her online advertising account after the first Democratic presidential debate last month.

The lawsuit says Ms. Gabbard was “the most searched-for Democratic presidential candidate” in the days following the debate, but that the company suspended her Google Ads account June 28 “without warning.”

“To this day, Google has not provided a straight answer — let alone a credible one — as to why Tulsi’s political speech was silenced right precisely when millions of people wanted to hear from her,” the lawsuit says.

It said Google eventually reinstated the account after giving conflicting information for why it had been suspended in the first place.

The lawsuit said that Google, “or someone at Google,” “didn’t want to hear Tulsi Gabbard’s speech, so it silenced her.”

Ms. Gabbard is seeking at least $50 million in damages. Lawyers also asked the court to declare that Google violated the campaign’s free speech rights and to order the tech giant not to censor or restrict the campaign’s speech rights.

A Google representative said the company has automated systems that flag unusual activity on advertiser accounts, “including large spending changes,” to prevent fraud.

“In this case, our system triggered a suspension, and the account was reinstated shortly thereafter,” the representative said.

“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.”

Ms. Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, has joined other 2020 presidential contenders in saying that online corporate giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have too much power and should be broken up.

The lawsuit comes as companies such as Facebook are facing accusations of political bias in terms of the content they promote and allow on their platforms, though those complaints have largely come from conservatives.

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