Prior to the November midterm elections, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a lawsuit against Google, a division of Alphabet Inc., alleging that the internet company is sending its campaign emails to users’ spam boxes. The committee claims that Google is ‘discriminating’ against the party by ‘throttling its email communications because of the RNC’s political affiliation and opinions’ in the complaint it filed in the US District Court in California.
Republicans have long charged that digital firms are stifling free speech and muzzling conservative opinions. ‘ Google has systematically sent millions of RNC emails to supporters’ and contributors’ spam folders at crucial times for campaign fundraising and community development. The RNC stated in its complaint that the timing of Google’s most severe filtering was particularly damaging’, according to the Reuters news agency. Unwanted or unnecessary emails, or spam, are forwarded to the user’s spam folder rather than their inbox. As a result, because the message is erased after 30 days, it is difficult to tell if it was sent to a spam folder.
The Republican committee asserted that despite Google’s efforts to resolve the issue, it has been ongoing for about ten months. Additionally, it stated that the delivery of its emails to spam folders had cost it money and that additional money would be lost in the upcoming weeks as the midterm elections approached. In the meanwhile, a statement from Google spokesperson José Castaeda has refuted the claims.
‘We simply don’t screen emails based on political party, as we have stated time and time again. Users’ behaviour is reflected in Gmail’s spam filters. The Federal Election Commission, to whom he was alluding, we give training and guidance to campaigns, we just launched an FEC-approved pilot for political senders, and we continue to work to optimise email deliverability while minimising undesired spam,’ he stated.
Under its trial programme, Google has been working since August to enable political campaigns to get past spam filters. In this application, the filters are modified so that political emails can get beyond the company’s spam-rerouting algorithms. Only if users take the initiative to label them as spam will it be forwarded to the spam bin.