In July 2019, Hawaii representative and longshot Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard lodged a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of breaching her First Amendment rights to free speech when it temporarily suspended her campaign’s advert account. On Wednesday, California’s Central District Court dismissed the case outright.
When rejecting the case, Wilson writes that what Gabbard “fails to prove is how Google’s guideline of its own platform is equal to governmental regulation of a poll.” When it comes to Google, “a private firm,” the First Amendment’s free speech protections do not apply.
A week ago, another California courtroom passed the same decision in a case that right-wing group PragerU brought against YouTube.
In a case of unfortunate timing, Gabbard’s account was deleted for a while following the first presidential debate as viewers learned about the unfamiliar candidate.
In the lawsuit, Gabbard mentioned that Google briefly deleted her advertising account “in the thick of the critical post-debate interval.”
Echoing unfounded conservative grievances of technology censorship, Gabbard characterized paid political advertising as free speech, the language that Facebook itself would later use while defending its lax position on policing political advertisements.
Gabbard decried Google’s dominance of the search business, echoing the anti-monopolist tech tempers expressed by other Democratic hopefuls. Political figures in both parties have seized on anti-tech sentiment in recent times, and the Hawaii representative’s suite is one instance of politically expedient posturing against giant tech platforms.