FEC rules Google’s Gmail spams emails on a ‘politically neutral basis’ after RNC complaint
After the Republican National Committee filed a complaint, the Federal Election Commission ruled Gmail’s email platform does not filter emails for political purposes. It claimed that Google sent spam emails to users in order to censor conservatives and send them fundraising emails.
RNC filed a complaint alleging that Gmail’s spam filter flagged Republican campaign email as spam in adisproportionate number of cases during the 2020 election cycle. The RNC also claimed that the spam filter had eliminated a significant source of political fundraising for GOP candidate and hampered their ability to communicate with the public their messages. This resulted in banned corporate in-kind donations to Biden for President.
“In accordance with the Commission’s recent precedent, Google credibly asserts its spam filter is used on a politically neutre basis and for commercial purposes, the Commission finds not reason to believe that Google, LLC, and Biden as President and Keana, in their official capacities as treasurer, knowingly accepted, prohibited corporate contributions in violation [U.S. Code],” the bipartisan FEC panel decided.
FEC panel members stressed that the “available information indicates that Google’s spam filter was in place for commercial purposes, rather than electoral purposes.”
Republicans pointed out a nonpartisan North Carolina State University study that showed Gmail allows most emails from the Democratic Party, including those from candidates for the presidency, to land in an individual’s inbox.
The study revealed that Gmail retained the majority left-wing candidate email messages in its inbox (10.12%) and sent the majority to the spam folder (upto 77.2%)
During the 2020 election cycle an RNC official stated that Gmail sent Republican emails to spam at a rate of approximately 8200% more than similar Democrat fundraising appeals.
Fox News first reported on the study last year. It found conservative candidates raised $737million on Republican fundraising platform WinRed in 2019 and 2020 from Gmail users. Republicans missed $1.5 billion due to the fact that only 32% of fundraising emails were sent.
The FEC however found that the authors of the study did not believe that these email services had attempted to influence voters by creating these biases.
FEC stated also that the Study’s lead author had “since publicly stated, that those who claim it demonstrates political bias are mischaracterizing” it.”
Jose Castaneda, a spokesperson for Google, stated Tuesday that the FEC’s bipartisan decision to dismiss the complaint “reaffirms” that Gmail doesn’t filter emails for political purposes.
Castaneda stated that they will continue to invest in the Gmail spam filters, which are industry leaders, because they’re important in protecting people’s inboxes against unwanted, unsolicited, or dangerous messages.
Fox News Digital spoke with Nathan Brand, RNC spokesperson. He said that Big Tech had “continued to hold Big Tech responsible for putting its hand on the scales in order to help Democrats win elections.”
Brand stated that Google cannot explain how they overwhelmingly and systematically diverted Republican email to voters’ spam folders, while allowing Democrat emails through. “While we are disappointed that the FEC has dismissed this complaint,” Brand said. However, the California lawsuit is still pending and Brand expressed his delight at that.
In October, the RNC stated that Google was sending spam messages to users’ spam boxes during the midterm elections cycle in order to suppress get-out-the vote and fundraising emails.
Google stated to Fox News that it does not matter if emails are sent to spam folders. The company pointed to a pilot program approved by the FEC ahead of midterms, which was launched to “study if these changes improve user experience during this election period.”
Participants had to satisfy security and authentication requirements in order to be eligible for the program. They also had to comply with Google’s best practices for bulk senders.
The program allowed users to keep 100 percent control of their inboxes. Gmail users had the option to mark messages as spam or unsubscribe. Unsubscribe means that emails do not go to spam but stop coming to users’ inboxes altogether. This requires the campaign or party removing the user from their distribution list within 24hrs.
Castaneda stated that any campaigns exceeding 5% spam rates would be removed form the pilot program.
However, the RNC warned that the pilot program could be used to weaponize it because it requires unprecedented amounts of data from Republican organisations and our voters.