Republican National Committee sues Google over email spam filters

The lawsuit accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against the RNC by sending the group’s emails to spam folders. Google says Gmail’s spam filter reflects user actions.

SAN FRANCISCO – The Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google, alleging it intercepted email invitations ahead of the November midterm elections – an allegation that Google rejected.

The lawsuit, filed in California’s Eastern District Court on Friday night, alleges Gmail “discriminates” against the RNC by unfairly sending the group’s emails to users’ spam folders, affect both fundraising efforts and pivot voting.

“Enough is enough – we are suing Google for their blatant bias towards Republicans,” RNC President Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to the Associated Press. “For ten months in a row, Google has sent critical Republican GOTV and fundraising spam emails with no explanation. We are committed to ending this apparent bias. “

Google, in a statement, denied the allegations. “As we have repeatedly said, we simply do not filter emails based on political affiliation. Spokesperson José Castañeda said that Gmail’s spam filter reflects user actions.

The lawsuit focuses on how Google’s Gmail, the world’s largest email service with about 1.5 billion users, screens and other materials to keep users from being inundated with spam. To try to filter out material that account holders may not want in their inbox, Google and other major email providers create programs that flag potentially unsolicited communications. are unwelcome and move them to spam folders that are rarely noticed by recipients.

The lawsuit says Google “moved millions of RNC emails into the spam folders of potential donors and supporters during key moments in election fundraising and community-building” — especially late in the year. each month, when political groups tend to send more messages. “It doesn’t matter if the email is about donations, voting or outreach. And it doesn’t matter whether the emails are delivered to the people who requested them,” it wrote.

Google considers its algorithms designated as neutral, but a study published in March by North Carolina State University found that Gmail is more likely to block messages from conservative causes. Research based on emails sent during the US presidential campaign in 2020, estimated Gmail placed about 10% of emails from “leftist” candidates in the spam folder, while marking 77% from “right-wing” candidates is spam.

Gmail’s rivals Yahoo and Microsoft’s Outlook are more likely to back pitches from conservative causes than Gmail, the study found.

The RNC seized on that research in April calling for the Federal Election Commission to investigate Google’s “censorship” of its fundraising efforts, which it alleges was in-kind donations to Democratic candidate and billed as “a devastating example of Silicon Valley’s finances, tech companies unfairly shape the political playing field to benefit wing candidates.” their favorite description”.

Since then, the committee has approved a pilot program to create a way for political committees to bypass spam filters so their fundraising emails find their way into recipients’ primary inboxes. . Gmail is joining the “Verified Senders Program,” which allows senders to bypass traditional spam filters, but also gives users the option to unsubscribe from a sender. If the unsubscribe button is pressed, the sender must remove that Gmail address from the Distribution List.

As of Friday night, RNC had not yet signed up for the pilot program.

Republicans have tried to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election without protesting the most extreme and baseless claims of broken voting machines and stolen ballots, often tried to blame big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook that they said were biased towards former President Donald Trump. A long list of state and local election officials, courts and members of Trump’s administration said there was no evidence of the mass fraud Trump alleges. Republican National Committee sues Google over email spam filters

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