Google has launched a pilot program to prevent political campaign emails from being caught in Gmail’s spam filter, a company spokesperson told Axios.
The move by the tech giant, which was approved by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) last month, follows vocal criticism of Google by Republicans after studies revealed that more Republican and conservative campaign emails went to Gmail users’ spam folders than Democrat and leftist material.
Axios acknowledged this, saying the move was “partly” the result of Google “bowing to pressure from conservatives who claimed the company marked Republican emails as spam more often than others.”
“Despite hundreds of negative comments submitted to the FEC arguing against it, the FEC approved the program in August,” continued Axios, apparently dissatisfied with Google taking steps to remove bias from Gmail.
As Breitbart News reported in April, a study from North Carolina State University’s department of Computer Science, titled A Peek into the Political Biases in Email Spam Filtering Algorithms During US Election 2020, found that there was a large bias against emails from conservative sources in Gmail during the 2020 election.
While Microsoft and Yahoo demonstrated a small bias towards emails from conservative candidates, Google marked emails from conservatives as spam a massive 59.3 percent more often than emails from Democrats.
Google’s spam filter exemption is designed to correct this bias, says the company.
“We expect to begin the pilot with a small number of campaigns from both parties and will test whether these changes improve the user experience, and provide more certainty for senders during this election period,” said Google spokesman José Castañeda in a comment to Axios. “We will continue to listen and respond to feedback as the pilot progresses. During the pilot, users will be in control through a more prominent unsubscribe button.”
Eligible campaign committees can now register with Google to become exempt from its spam filter, although emails will still be scanned for phishing and malware.