The Republican National Committee accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against it by unfairly sending its emails to users’ spam folders, impacting fundraising and voting efforts.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has filed a complaint against tech giant Google, alleging the company removed its email solicitations ahead of November’s midterm elections — an allegation Google denies.
The lawsuit, filed in District Court for the Eastern District of California, accuses Gmail of “discriminating” against the committee by unfairly sending the group’s emails to users’ spam folders, impacting both fundraising and voting efforts in critical situations. oscillating states.
“That’s enough – we’re suing Google for its blatant bias against Republicans,” committee 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, in a statement, denied the charges. “As we’ve said many times, we simply don’t filter emails based on political affiliation. Gmail’s spam filters reflect user actions,” said spokesperson José Castañeda, adding that the company provides campaign training and guidelines and strives to “maximize email deliverability while minimizing unwanted spam.”
The lawsuit, filed Friday evening, focuses on how Google’s Gmail, the world’s largest email service with around 1.5 billion users, screens solicitations and other materials to help prevent users from being flooded with spam. To filter 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 spam folders. which are rarely, if ever, accessed by recipients.
The lawsuit says 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, when political groups tend to send more messages.
“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.
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 U.S. presidential campaign, estimates that Gmail placed around 10% of left-wing candidates’ emails in spam folders while marking 77% of right-wing candidates as spam. 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.
The RNC had not registered to participate in the pilot program before filing the lawsuit.
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. They accuse them of bias towards former President Donald Trump.
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.