As the 2020 presidential election quickly approaches, former democratic candidates are coming forward to justify why they felt they could not or did not progress further in the race. Hawaii representative, Tulsi Gabbard, is one such candidate. In July 2019, Gabbard filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming the ever-popular technology company inhibited Gabbard’s web presence by temporarily suspending her campaign ad account. Gabbard sought damages in the amount of $50 million. Just this past week, a California Central District Court judge dismissed the case.
According to court documents and Twitter, following the first democratic debate, viewers were restricted from searching any information on Gabbard’s campaign. From Gabbard’s Twitter account, it is clear that Google’s reasoning for briefly suspending the account was initially unknown to Gabbard. The only likely explanation imaginable was to attempt to manipulate the results of the race. Determined to be a critical moment in Gabbard’s pursuit for candidacy, following the first debate, she felt her First Amendment right to free speech was violated. In Gabbard’s argument, her influence and communication to American voters was stifled.
The apparent mistake made by Gabbard was the degree of authority she afforded Google in determining the race for presidential elections. The judge assigned to the case did not agree with the allegation that Google “helps to run elections,” making it clear that the company’s policies were not comparable to governmental regulation of an election. Google is not considered a government entity that is able to infringe upon the First Amendment free speech rights of individuals.
Regardless of Google’s position in allegedly violating rights of the American people, a representative for the company commented after the fact that the system automatically identified unusual activity on the campaign account, which led to the suspension. In Google’s defense, the company claims it had no intentional motive to sway the opinions of voters away from Gabbard’s campaign. On the other hand, Gabbard maintains that Google’s actions served as a hit against democracy.Google+