A $50 million lawsuit brought against tech giant Google by Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI) has reportedly been dismissed by a federal judge this week. Gabbard’s lawsuit alleged that Google censored the presidential candidate’s free speech by suspending her advertising account after she crushed Kamala Harris in a debate.
The New York Times reports that a $50 million lawsuit brought against Google by presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has been dismissed by a federal judge. The lawsuit accused Google of infringing on Gabbard’s free speech by suspending her advertising account last year.
Gabbard’s lawsuit alleged that Google blocked her ads shortly after the first Democratic presidential debate. Gabbard’s lawsuit cited two Breitbart News scoops demonstrating the company’s political bias, the Google Tape, a recording of Google executives’ dismayed reaction to President Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, and leaked emails showing senior google employees trying to remove ad revenue from Breitbart.
Via Gabbard’s lawsuit:
After President Trump won the election, an internal Google video leaked showing Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, its CEO Sundar Pichai, and other high-ranking Google officers speaking, with dismay, about Trump’s election victory. Their alarm may have been well-founded: In May of this year, Trump’s Department of Justice announced it was exploring whether to open a case against Google for potential antitrust violations.
More recently, Google employees engaged in an internal lobbying cam-paign to block Breitbart from Google’s advertising program. As part of this internal lobbying campaign, one Google employee pressed that “[t]here is obviously a moral argument to be made [to blocking Breitbart] as well as a business case.” While it’s not entirely clear what “business case” the Google employee was referring to, it’s important to note that Breitbart has been among Google’s staunchest critics, alleging that the company routinely censors conservative viewpoints.
The complaint goes on to highlight Google’s immense political power, stating that the company could “decisively end a presidential candidate’s bid for office if it chose to.”
While there is no law against a company’s employees engaging in political activity, Google is no ordinary company. As a result of its power, it helps to run elections with its search results and ad offerings, including exercising unilateral control over nearly all Internet search and search advertising—perhaps the single most important platform through which presidential primary candidates communicate with potential voters, and vice versa. Quite simply, Google could unilaterally and decisively end a presidential candidate’s bid for office if it chose to.
This week judge Stephen V. Wilson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, granted Google’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit stating that Gabbard had failed to prove that the First Amendment clause that prohibits the government from curbing free speech applied to Google as a private company.
Judge Wilson wrote in his order that the Gabbard campaign’s lawsuit failed to establish “how Google’s regulation of its own platform is in any way equivalent to a governmental regulation of an election.” The lawsuit alleged that Google infringed on Gabbard’s right to free speech when the company suspended the campaign’s advertising account for six hours on June 27 and 28 following the first Democratic presidential debate.
At the time Google alleged that an automated system nad flagged the campaign’s advertising account due to suspicious activity and it had since been reinstated once the company realized that the system acted in error.