(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The Federal Election Commission recently dismissed a complaint by Republicans who asserted that Google flagged their fundraising emails as spam more frequently than they did for Democrats.
According to the Daily Caller, the complaint originated with a March 2022 study from North Carolina State University that discovered 67.6% of GOP fundraising emails went straight to users’ spam folders.
Comparatively, only 8.2% of Democrat emails requesting money faced similar issues.
Congressional Republicans claimed that the “overwhelmingly disproportionate suppression” was significant enough to qualify as illegal corporate contribution.
“Google has credibly supported its claim that its spam filter is in place for commercial reasons and thus did not constitute a contribution,” the FEC argued when dismissing the complaint.
“Though the NCSU Study [sic] appears to demonstrate a disparate impact from Google’s spam filter, it explicitly states that its authors have ‘no reason to believe that there were deliberate attempts from these email services to create these biases to influence the voters.”
Google released a FEC-approved program in September 2022 that would allow emails from political campaigns to work around the spam filter. This was largely in response to complaints from Republicans.
However very few Republican campaigns enrolled in the program. This resulted in a contentious argument—some argued the Republicans did not enroll in the program straightaway and that lost them money, others stated that the need for a bypass acted as proof that Google is biased.
“The Commission’s bipartisan decision to dismiss this complaint reaffirms that Gmail does not filter emails for political purposes,” Google spokesman José Castañeda told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ll continue to invest in our Gmail industry-leading spam filters because, as the FEC notes, they’re important to protecting people’s inboxes from receiving unwanted, unsolicited, or dangerous messages.”
The RNC calculated that the algorithms causing their fundraising emails to go directly to the spam filter cost their candidates an estimated $2 billion since 2019.
“Google cannot explain away how they’ve overwhelmingly and systematically diverted Republican emails to voters’ spam folders while letting Democrat emails through,” RNC spokesman Nathan Brand stated. “The RNC will continue to hold Big Tech accountable for putting its thumb on the scales to help Democrats win elections.”