Political campaign emails could soon be safe from falling into Gmail spam folders if a new initiative from Google gets the green light.
The technology giant has petitioned the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to approve a new pilot program that will make it less likely for such emails to end up marked as spam.
The move could see Gmail inboxes flooded with political campaign emails, particularly as the United States gears up for a presidential election in 2024.
Gmail political spam
The filing, spotted by Axios (opens in new tab), comes after complaints from the Republican party that Google unfairly filters more of its messaging (opens in new tab) than that of its Democratic rivals.
A recent study (opens in new tab) of 300,000 emails during the 2020 election claimed Gmail was 50% more likely to designate messages from Republicans as spam than those from Democrats.
The party introduced a bill earlier in June 2022 that, if passed, would require platforms such as Gmail to explain exactly how it filters out messages, as well as making it illegal to sort campaign emails into spam unless specifically asked to do so by the user.
In response, Google is looking to make the process more transparent, with its pilot meaning "authorized candidate committees, political party committees and leadership political action committees registered with the FEC" becoming exempt from being marked as spam.
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Such emails would still need to adhere to Google's security and content guidelines, and users will need to give their consent to receive such messages. The company says that when receiving an email from a campaign for the first time, users would see a “prominent” notification asking for their approval, and would be able to opt out of any future emails.
"We recently asked the FEC to authorize a pilot program that may help improve inboxing rates for political bulk senders and provide more transparency into email deliverability, while still letting users protect their inboxes by unsubscribing or labeling emails as spam," Google spokesperson José Castañeda told Axios.
“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," he added.
"We look forward to exploring new ways to provide the best possible Gmail experience.”
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