Google wants Gmail spam filters to ignore campaign emails

Advertisements

A new law might shield legitimate campaign emails from Gmail’s spam filtering.

Gmail app (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you must understand

  • In order to protect political campaign emails from Gmail’s spam filter, Google has requested the Federal Election Commission to establish a pilot program.
  • Emails issued by official candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership political action committees are free from this rule.
  • Users of Gmail will continue to have the last say over whether they wish to receive this type of email going forward.

Recent allegations that Google unfairly filtered Republican campaign emails sent over Gmail led to backlash. The business is attempting to remedy this by advocating for a new program that would exempt these emails from being classified as spam.

Advertisements

In a document obtained by Axios(opens in new tab), Google requests permission from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to implement a pilot program that will prevent political campaign emails from ending up in spam folders unless users specifically choose to do so. The limitations and guidelines for Gmail are still in place, though.

Emails sent by “approved candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership political action committees registered with the FEC” will be excluded from the spam rule. They must, though, adhere to Gmail’s phishing, malware, and unlawful content restrictions.

Additionally, individuals will have the last say regarding whether they want to keep getting emails from political campaigns. When a campaign email enters a user’s inbox for the first time, the computer is programmed to display a notification. If they would like to keep receiving these emails, they will be questioned.

Advertisements

Your inbox is likely to get overrun by political campaign emails as a result of the initiative. In any case, the opt-out tool will lessen spam emails.

The filing appeared to be Google’s response to earlier allegations from the Republican party that it had unjustly flagged more GOP campaign emails than Democratic party emails. This was in line with a North Carolina State University study(opens in new tab), which discovered that during the 2020 campaign, Gmail’s automated spam detection was more likely to classify emails from Republican campaigns as spam than Yahoo and Microsoft Outlook.

Due of this, Republican senators last month filed a bill to combat what they called “biased algorithms.” Google and other platforms will be required by the Political BIAS Emails Act(opens in new tab) to disclose how they route emails to spam folders. More crucially, the bill aims to outlaw the automatic marking of campaign emails as spam.

Advertisements

Republicans’ assertions were debunked by Google last month in a blog post(opens in new tab) that described how Gmail’s spam filters function.

According to Neil Kumaran, Google’s group product manager for Gmail security and trust, “these filters look at a range of signals, including features of the IP address, domains/subdomains, whether bulk senders are verified, and user input.” “User feedback is crucial to this filtering process, and our filters learn from user actions, such as when a user marks a particular email as spam or indicates they want a sender’s emails in their inbox.”

This was repeated by Google representative José Castaeda in a statement to Axios, who added: “We do not filter emails based on political affiliation. We want Gmail to provide a great experience for all of our customers, including minimizing junk spam.”

Advertisements

Leave a Comment