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GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel criticized big tech in a series of tweets on Friday, alleging Google has “systematically attacked” the RNC by thwarting fundraising and campaign emails “like clockwork” during key periods.
The GOP leader claims the committee’s email inbox delivery rate shows that 90 to 100 percent of notes successfully reach subscribers for most of the month until the percentage drops to zero during the last few days.
“These are emails that go to our most engaged, opt-in supporters without any increase in user complaints, changes to the content, email frequency or target audiences that could account for the suppression,” she said, adding Google blocks the committee’s fundraising emails from delivering right before a “critical” period when voters are most engaged.
According to WinRed filings reported by The Washington Post, online fundraising for Republicans has fallen in recent months by about 11 percent in the second quarter of the year, compared to the first, while the Democrats’ fundraising platform, ActBlue, increased by more than 21 percent.
Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers and strategists spoke with Google’s top lawyer to explain the company’s approach to email spam and suppressing emails from GOP, according to The Post.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) compared sending emails to spam as the equivalent of the post office refusing to deliver the mail.
“If you mail a letter, you expect it to be delivered,” Grassley said, according to The Post. “That’s what should happen.”
Researchers at North Carolina State University conducted a study in 2020 about political biases in email spam filtering algorithms during the last presidential election. They found that Gmail marked 77 percent of right-wing candidate emails as spam, while the company sent only 10 percent of left-wing candidate emails to the junk inbox.
“As an aggregate trend, Gmail leaned towards the left while Outlook and Yahoo leaned towards the right,” according to the study. “We further observed that the percentage of emails marked by Gmail as spam from the right-wing candidates grew steadily as the election date approached while the percentage of emails marked as spam from the left-wing candidates remained about the same.”
Researchers would later claim the study did not allege the email services deliberately attempted to create biases or influence voters.
In a separate statement to The Post, Grassley said, “It’s past time these companies are held accountable for manipulating algorithms that control what Americans see online, including in their email inboxes.”
However, Google said the study sampled a small size and old data without accounting for other factors such as specific settings with sending bulk emails.
The tech giant has also disputed GOP leader McDaniel’s claims about political bias.
“We want Gmail to provide a great experience for all of our users, including minimizing unwanted email, but we do not filter emails based on political affiliation,” a Google spokesperson told Daily Wire. “We are happy to help political committees and other organizations reach their constituents, donors, and key audiences every day.”
But McDaniel maintains her position, saying Google has failed to explain why the party’s email delivery comes to a halt around the same time GOP supporters typically donate.
“It’s unacceptable,” McDaniel said. “We have filed a complaint with the [Federal Election Commission] over this practice of censoring Republican emails, and it just keeps happening.”
“Big Tech needs to be held accountable,” she added.
The GOP filed the complaint against Google in April and cited the North Carolina State study.
Google has also addressed the commission about creating a program to mitigate the problem with spam.
“We recently asked the Federal Election Commission to advise us on a potential pilot for political bulk senders that would provide more transparency into email deliverability while still letting users protect their inboxes by unsubscribing or labeling emails as spam,” a Google spokesperson told Daily Wire.
Republican lawmakers introduced the Political Bias in Algorithm Sorting Emails Act of 2022 l last month that would block email providers from marking messages as spam.
Anne P. Mitchell, the chief executive of email certification service Get to the Inbox, told The Washington Post, the bill is “clearly grandstanding to push Google to do exactly what they’re now doing.”
“Rather than dealing with the possibility of the law passing and tying itself in knots defending its ability to apply spam filtering, Google has gone to the FEC,” she said. “The result of this will be to cram political spam down people’s throats.”