RNC sues Google over spam filters

SAN FRANCISCO — The Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google, alleging the company removed its email solicitations ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The lawsuit, filed in District Court for the Eastern District of California on Friday evening, accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against the RNC by unfairly sending the group’s emails to users’ spam folders, impacting both the collection of funds and voting efforts. in pivotal swing states.

“Enough is enough – we are suing Google for its blatant bias against Republicans,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to The Associated Press. “For ten months in a row, Google has spammed crucial Republican GOTV and month-end fundraising emails without any explanation. We are committed to ending this clear pattern of bias.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit focuses on how Google’s Gmail, the world’s largest email service with around 1.5 billion users, filters solicitations and other materials to help prevent users from being inundated with spam. To try to filter out content that account holders may not want in their inboxes, Google and other major email providers create programs that flag communications that may be perceived as spam and move them to folders spam that are usually rarely, if ever, viewed by recipients.

The lawsuit says that Google “relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to the spam folders of potential donors and supporters during pivotal times of election fundraising and community building” — particularly at the end of each month. “It doesn’t matter if the email is about a donation, a vote, or community outreach. And it doesn’t matter that the emails are sent to the people who requested them,” it read. The group alleges that more than 41.5 million of its emails ended up in spam folders.

Google maintains that its algorithms are designed to be neutral, but a study published in March by North Carolina State University found that Gmail was much more likely to block messages from conservative causes. The study, based on emails sent during the 2020 US presidential campaign, estimates that Gmail placed around 10% of ‘left-wing’ candidate emails in spam folders, while flagging 77% of candidates “right” as spam.

Gmail’s rivals, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Outlook, were more likely to favor arguments for conservative causes than Gmail, according to the study.

The RNC seized on the study in April to ask the Federal Election Commission to investigate Google’s “censorship” of its fundraising efforts, which it said amounted to an in-kind contribution to Democratic candidates. and were “a financially devastating example of Silicon Valley”. tech companies are unfairly shaping the political playing field to benefit their favored far-left candidates.

The commission has since approved a pilot program that allows political committees to bypass spam filters so that their fundraising emails end up in recipients’ primary inboxes. Gmail participates in the “Verified Sender Program,” which allows senders to bypass traditional spam filters, but also gives users the ability to unsubscribe from a sender. If the unsubscribe button is enabled, a sender is supposed to remove that Gmail address from their mailing lists.

As of Friday night, the RNC had not registered to participate in the pilot program.

Republicans who have tried to cast doubt on the 2020 election outcome without repeating the most extreme and baseless claims about corrupt voting machines and stolen votes have often tried to blame big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook that , according to them, were biased against former President Donald. Asset. A long list of state and local election officials, courts and members of Trump’s own administration have said there is no evidence of Trump’s alleged mass fraud.

Colvin reported from Akron, Ohio.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.


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