The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reportedly dismissed the complaint from Republicans that Gmail had been filtering their emails as spam more aggressively than those of the Democrats, and is said to be closing its file.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the latter part of 2022 saw Republicans complaining of unfair bias, citing a study from North Carolina State University revealing that, “for one baseline group”, an average of 67.6% of Republicans’ emails were being sent to spam, compared with 8.2% of Democrats’ emails.
In response, Google had implemented a new pilot program that saw users having to mark political campaign emails as spam, bypassing the automatic filtering, which Google spokesperson José Castañeda hoped would “provide more certainty for senders during this election period”.
Gmail’s ‘political’ filtering
The FEC is reported to have told Google that it had no reason to believe that the company was biasedly filtering such emails, and that “Google has credibly supported its claim that its spam filter is in place for commercial reasons and thus did not constitute a contribution”.
Google maintains that its spam filtering serves as a tool to prevent malware, phishing attacks, and spam, while the FEC explains that any skewed results in favor of the Democrats were inadvertent.
Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson, Nathan Brand, said that the organization “will continue to hold Big Tech accountable” for moves that it considers help the Democrats to win elections, claiming that Google is unable to explain why so many Republican emails had been “systematically” sent to spam folders.
The FEC noted that the NCSU study had no reason to believe that the email provider had been deliberately filtering in a matter that sought to create or reinforce bias. However, as Brand explains, the GOP lawsuit in California remains an open case.