Author: Emily Birnbaum
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential contender, is suing Google over claims that the tech behemoth violated her right to "free speech."
In a federal complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Gabbard alleged Google censored her presidential campaign when it suspended their advertising account for several hours last month.
A Google spokeswoman pushed back on Gabbard's claims in a statement to The Hill, attributing the brief suspension to sudden "large spending changes" that set off Google's automated systems.
"We have automated systems that flag unusual activity on all advertiser accounts – including large spending changes – in order to prevent fraud and protect our customers," the spokeswoman said.
"In this case, our system triggered a suspension and the account was reinstated shortly thereafter."
Gabbard's lawsuit marks the first time a presidential contender has sued a large technology company over such claims.
The Hawaii Democrat's principal campaign committee, Tulsi Now Inc., is suing Google, accusing it of violating her First Amendment rights along with a litany of violations under California law.
"With this lawsuit, Tulsi seeks to stop Google from further intermeddling in the 2020 United States Presidential Election," the complaint reads.
Gabbard's lawsuit reflects a narrative typically espoused by Republicans, many of whom have spent years claiming that the top tech companies in the world routinely censor their perspectives. President Trump has long accused the companies of discriminating against himself and other Republicans, and last month held a "social media summit" dedicated explicitly to the issue.
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