Google is working so hard to silence Rep. Tulsi Gabbard that she once again dominated search results on… Google.
A week after Gabbard sued the tech giant for alleged censorship, she soared to the top of search results following her tongue-lashing of Sen. Kamala Harris’ criminal justice record at Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. The Hawaii congresswoman even boasted of the news on Twitter, highlighting how her name was the most-queried of any candidate in all 50 states.
“Following the last two debates, Tulsi has spiked to #1 in Google Trends, showing America is hungry for her message of ending wasteful wars and the nuclear arms race,” Gabbard tweeted, linking to a Google-centric fundraising page on her website.
Her campaign’s lawsuit against the company didn’t get a mention. The complaint charged that Google’s temporary suspension of Gabbard’s ability to buy ads last month amounted to a frontal assault on her outsider candidacy. Painting Silicon Valley as an arm of corporate Democrats, she sought damages of at least $50 million for the supposed clamp-down on her free speech.
“Big Tech’s dominance represents a clear and present danger to our democracy,” the campaign added on a separate fundraising page.
It just so happens that Google is among the most useful tools for her long-shot presidential campaign as well. Representatives for Gabbard did not respond to VICE News’ questions of whether they still felt targeted as they basked in renewed search interest Thursday.
Big Tech has become a favorite punching bag for self-styled free thinkers despite limited evidence it systematically stifles speech. Republicans have increasingly made grievance campaigns against Silicon Valley central to their political appeal, while internet personalities hawking products make similar sales pitches to their audiences.
Gabbard, who has an outsize online following that includes pro-Trump trolls and anti-anti-Trump contrarians, has joined that chorus from the left flank of the Democratic primary field. And her performance in search results Wednesday night didn’t stop them from complaining.
Rather than take aim at Google, however, they set their sights on another target.
“How on earth can Tulsi Gabbard be the most Googled candidate yet not trend on Twitter when all the other candidates trended?” tweeted Paul Joseph Watson, an Alex Jones protegé at the conspiracy site Infowars. “Rigged.”
Cover: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, answers questions after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)