Republicans sue Google over Gmail election spam plan

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has criticized efforts from Google that the tech giant says aims to help stop political emails being sent to spam folders.

According to Axios, the group says Google’s plans don’t do enough to prevent automatic filtering, and are now set to take the tech giant to court in California.

According to the allegation, Google “has relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building.”

Gmail political email filtering

The RNS claims to have observed normal delivery of its emails throughout most parts of the month, with many of its emails being sent to spam toward the end of the month. They say that “this end of the month period is historically when the RNC’s fundraising is most successful.”

Following criticism that more Republican content than Democratic content was getting filtered as spam, Google launched a pilot program in September 2022 that would see users having to mark political campaign emails as spam in the first instance, in the hope that more political campaign emails would be delivered straight to users’ mailboxes.  The feature would then offer up a more prominent ‘unsubscribe’ button for users to opt out.

A Google spokesperson told Axios that “Gmail’s spam filters reflect users’ actions”, however following more than nine months’ discussions, the RNC says that the issue is still unresolved. 

However, the publication noted that the RNC has not enrolled in Gmail’s spam filtering pilot program which is designed to alleviate these kinds of errors.

The ability for political campaigners’ emails to bypass the email service’s spam filtering was granted by the Federal Election Commission in August. When the feature rolled out, eligible committees were then able to register their participation subject to terms and requirements set out by Google.

Via Axios

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