The Republican National Committee (RNC) has filed a lawsuit against Google in a U.S. district court in California for allegedly putting its campaign emails in the spam folders of its millions of users, Axios reported.
The lawsuit alleges that Google “has relegated millions of RNC emails in masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building.”
Axios explains that last month, Google launched a pilot program to keep campaign emails out of spam. But the RNC has been criticizing the program, arguing it doesn’t help enough with political email filtering. Axios first reported that Google was launching the program in June. It was later approved by the Federal Election Commission and launched last month.
In that article, Axios reported that Google asked the Federal Election Commission if a program that would let campaigns emails bypass spam filters, instead of giving users the option to move them to spam first, would be legal under campaign finance laws. According to Axios, despite hundreds of negative comments submitted to the FEC arguing against it, the FEC approved the program in August. Eligible committees, abiding by security requirements and best practices as outlined by Google, could register to participate.
In the current article, Axios posted a quite from Google spokesperson José Castañeda:
“Gmail’s spam filter reflects users’ actions. We provide training and guidelines to campaigns, we recently launched an FEC-approved pilot for political senders, and we continue to work to maximize email deliverability while minimizing unwanted spam.”
According to Axios, the RNC argues in the lawsuit that despite discussing the email issue with Google for more than nine months, it remains unresolved, alleging Google is sending emails to spam on purpose due to political bias. Axios reported that the RNC is not enrolled in Google’s email pilot program meant to alleviate these issues (per a source familiar with the situation.)
The Verge reported that the RNC’s lawsuit was filed in California’s Eastern District Court, and that the RNC accuses Google of “throttling its email messages because of the RNC’s political affiliation and views.”
According to The Verge, to address the RNC’s concerns, Google rolled out a pilot program in September that was supposed to help prevent political emails from getting marked as spam. However, according to The Verge’s Makena Kelly, Republicans haven’t been taking advantage of the program which would have required it to follow security requirements and best practices standards when sending out emails in bulk.
As noted by the lawsuit, the RNC claims Google has continued to send RNC emails “en masse” to users’ spam folders during “pivotal points” for gaining supporters and fundraising for the upcoming midterm elections. It goes on to state that Google’s alleged filtering occurs “at approximately the same time at the end of each month,” and that the end of October is one of the most crucial fundraising periods for Republicans, who have been struggling to meet their fundraising goals in the months leading up to the midterm elections, The Verge reported.
In my opinion, it sounds like the RNC could have avoided having its political emails sent to people’s spam folders simply by choosing to join Google’s program. If they had done that, this entire problem could potentially have been avoided. That said, if you are a person who wants to donate to Republican candidates – you might find those emails in your spam folder.