The Federal Election Commission has accused Gmail, Google’s email platform, of sending emails for political purposes, alleging that the Republican National Committee censored conservatives by sending Republican fundraising emails to users’ spam folders. I’ve ruled that I’m not filtering.
The RNC complaint alleges that spam filters associated with Gmail disproportionately flagged Republican campaign emails as spam during the 2020 election period. The complaint also alleges that spam filters eliminated Republican candidates’ primary source of political funding and undermined their ability to get their message across to the public, resulting in a ban on in-kind corporate donations to President Biden. .
Republicans hit Google with FEC complaint over GMAIL censorship of fundraising emails
“In line with the Commission’s recent case law, Google convinces itself that its spam filter is politically neutral and is being applied for commercial purposes, and the Commission therefore recommends that Google, LLC, I find no reason to believe that Biden created for the President and Keena Spencer, in his official capacity as Treasurer, knowingly accepted and prohibited corporate donations in kind in violation of: bottom. [U.S. code]ruled by the bipartisan FEC panel.
The FEC Panel stressed that “the available information indicates that Google’s spam filters are in place for commercial purposes and not for electoral purposes.”
Republicans point to a nonpartisan study by researchers at North Carolina State University in which Gmail allows the majority of emails from Democrats to reach users’ inboxes, while messages from conservative candidates found that more than two-thirds of were marked as spam.
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Gmail “kept the majority of email from left-wing candidates in the inbox (< 10.12% were marked as spam) and sent the majority of email from right-wing candidates to spam folders (up to 77.2% marked as spam),” the study found. .
During the 2020 election, RNC officials said a study found that Gmail forwarded Republican emails to spam at a rate about 820% higher than similar Democratic fundraising appeals. I was.
Fox News first reported on the study last year, finding that conservative candidates raised $737 million from Gmail users on Republican fundraising platform WinRed in 2019 and 2020. Donations during the 2020 Election Cycle.
However, the FEC found that the study’s authors said there was “no reason to believe that these email services intentionally sought to create these biases to influence voters.” .
The FEC also said the lead author “has publicly stated that those who claim the study shows political bias misunderstand it.”
According to the RNC, Google has curbed more than 22 million GOTVs, raised email funding in September, and is exploring “legal options.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital on Tuesday, Google spokesman José Castañeda said the FEC’s “bipartisan decision to dismiss this complaint confirms that Gmail does not filter email for political purposes. I will reconfirm,” he said.
“We will continue to invest in Gmail’s industry-leading spam filter because, as pointed out by the FEC, it is critical to protecting people’s inboxes from receiving junk, junk, and dangerous messages. is,” said Castañeda.
As for the RNC, spokesman Nathan Brand told Fox News Digital that the RNC “will continue to hold Big Tech responsible for giving the scale a thumbs up to help the Democrats win the election.” .
“Google can’t explain how they overwhelmingly and systematically forwarded Republican email to voters’ spam folders while letting Democrat email through,” Brand said. “While we are disappointed that the FEC has dismissed this action, the California lawsuit is still pending and we look forward to seeing how it unfolds in court.”
The RNC said in October that Google was throttling voting and fundraising emails during the midterm elections by sending messages to users’ spam folders.
Republicans say Google’s Gmail censorship has cost Republican candidates $2 billion since 2019.
At the time, Google told Fox News that political affiliation “plays no role” in whether emails end up in spam folders, and an FEC-approved pilot program was launched by the company. It noted that it will “research whether these changes will improve the user experience during that period” ahead of the midterm elections. this election period. “
To be eligible to participate in the program, participants had to meet security and authentication requirements and adhere to Google’s Bulk Sending Best Practices.
With this program, users remained in “100% control” of their inboxes. In other words, Gmail users could choose to mark messages as spam or unsubscribe. If the user chooses to unsubscribe, the email will not only be classified as spam, but will not reach the user’s inbox at all. This is because the campaign or political party must remove that user from the distribution list within his 24 hours.
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Castañeda said campaigns with a spam rate of 5% are excluded from the pilot program.
However, the RNC warns that the pilot program “could be weaponized as it demands an unprecedented amount of data from Republican organizations and voters.”