In the summer of 2019, Hawaii Congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard sued Google. She argued that the tech company sought to manipulate the election process when it suspended the advertising account for her campaign. In other words, her campaign was temporarily prevented from buying Google ads. This occurred shortly after the first debate in the Democratic primaries. Google responded that it had suspended the account based on concerns of fraud. It allegedly had received a report of unusual activity on the account from one of its automated systems. Google reinstated the account after a short time, but Gabbard sued the company for $50 million, claiming that it had tried to silence her.
Earlier this month, Google prevailed in federal court. Judge Stephen Wilson noted that Google is not a government entity and does not have the ability to regulate an election. It does not control the primary process, interfere with voters, or determine which candidates are selected. Instead, it is a private entity that regulates its platform. Thus, the First Amendment does not apply to Google.
This case continued a recent series of controversies over the way in which tech companies handle political speech. The left has argued that tech companies need to more carefully regulate content that could be considered hate speech. The right has argued that conservatives have been prevented from articulating their views. Gabbard remains in the presidential race, but she is unlikely to become a serious contender for the Democratic nomination.
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