Sen. Cruz Slams Google for Election Advertisement Censorship in Letter to CEO

As chairman of the Subcommittee on The Constitution, I recently sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai raising concerns regarding Google's announcement that it will block advertisements mentioning current state or federal office holder or candidates and parties after Election Day.

In the letter to Sundar Pichai, I wrote:

"This week, Axios reported that Google has informed advertisers that, after polls close on November 3, it will block advertisements that mention a current state or federal office holder or candidate, political party, or ballot measure. This brazen act of censorship once again illustrates how Google will use its market power to manipulate our democracy. I strongly urge Google to reverse course and privilege the free exchange of ideas over whatever internal agenda - or outside pressure - is pressing it toward the limitation of democratic debate."

I continued:

"No longer is Google content to censor political advertisements and messaging prior to an election with the ostensible goal of ensuring a fair contest, it must now censor political advertisements even after every ballot has been cast. Moreover, it is unclear how this policy works in regards to elections that will indeed take place after November 3, including potential run-off elections in Georgia and a newly scheduled, February congressional election in Minnesota."

Noting that "it has become increasingly clear that Google has turned its back on American principles of free speech in favor of a robust censorship regime," I requested the company provide the Subcommittee on The Constitution response to questions clarifying their announced policy, especially with regards to how the policy might impact upcoming run-off and special elections.

Read the full text of the letter here and below.

Earlier this month, I slammed Facebook for their announced ban of election advertising the final week before Election Day. In June, I sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai regarding their ‘transparently politically motivated' move to demonetize the conservative media organization "The Federalist."

Learn more about Big Tech's pattern of political bias here. Learn more about my efforts to hold Big Tech accountable here and here.

September 26, 2020


Mr. Sundar Pichai
Chief Executive Officer
Google LLC
Mountain View, CA 94043

Dear Mr. Pichai:

This week, Axios reported that Google has informed advertisers that, after polls close on November 3, it will block advertisements that mention a current state or federal office holder or candidate, political party, or ballot measure. This brazen act of censorship once again illustrates how Google will use its market power to manipulate our democracy. I strongly urge Google to reverse course and privilege the free exchange of ideas over whatever internal agenda - or outside pressure - is pressing it toward the limitation of democratic debate.

It was reported that Google will block all advertisements related to the election "running through Google's ad-serving platforms, including Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer." This would effectively prevent the free flow of information to millions of Americans, and stifle views that may not otherwise be covered by media outlets. Moreover, it is marked extension of Google's already deeply concerning censorship policies. No longer is Google content to censor political advertisements and messaging prior to an election with the ostensible goal of ensuring a fair contest, it must now censor political advertisements even after every ballot has been cast. Moreover, it is unclear how this policy works in regards to elections that will indeed take place after November 3, including potential run-off elections in Georgia and a newly scheduled, February congressional election in Minnesota.

In 2019, the Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing at which I showed to you a document from Google entitled "The Good Censor." That document stated that "tech firms [were] gradually shift[ing] away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation." At the time, Google pressed back against this document and its content. But since that date, it has become increasingly clear that Google has turned its back on American principles of free speech in favor of a robust censorship regime-and it has done so with great haste.

Given the importance of the marketplace of ideas both during and after an election, the Subcommittee requests a response to the following questions no later than Monday, October 5, 2020:

• Will Google remove advertisements from news outlets that report and editorialize regarding federal office holders or candidates, political parties, and ballot measures? If not, why not?

• During the period in which it bans election-related advertisements, will Google or any of its subsidiaries take any action related to the election? If so, what?

• To whom does Google believe it is accountable for its decisions to censor election-related advertisements?

• How many advertisements and other exposures would this policy have precluded had it been applied during the 2016 and 2018 election cycle?

• How will this new policy affect advertising on Google platforms after November 3, in anticipation of additional run-off and special elections, both those foreseeable already as well as those which will emerge in the weeks and months to come?

Issues: 
 

© 2015 TexasGOPVote  | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy