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July 6, 2022

GOP Charges Google With Email Suppression

Republicans have lost an estimated $2 billion in would-be campaign donations due to Google’s errant spam filtering.

Republicans have raised another complaint against Big Tech. This one deals specifically with Google over the claim that the tech giant has engaged in email suppression that has cost the party potentially billions in campaign donations.

“Big Tech has been silencing conservative voices and actively working against Republicans for multiple cycles,” charged Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott, and National Republican Campaign Committee Chair Tom Emmer. They added: “Google’s email suppression — which affects the GOP’s fundraising and GOTV efforts — is another egregious example. Silicon Valley oligarchs are suppressing free political speech.”

In defending their claim, the Republicans pointed to a North Carolina State University study released in March that found Google had flagged as spam upwards of 60% of Republican campaign emails sent in 2020. The Republicans contended that Google’s illegitimate flagging had cost the party an estimated $2 billion in donations since 2019.

Google, unsurprisingly, denied it had engaged in intentionally biased and politically motivated spam filtering, claiming that email users set their own spam filter preferences. Our own Emmy Griffin explained in April that there are some legitimate reasons for Google’s claim. Yet the same NC State study found that both Outlook and Yahoo flagged more Democrat campaign emails as spam than they did GOP, though to a much lesser degree than Republicans experienced with Google.

As Big Tech companies have used a fleet of dubious and blatantly biased third-party “fact-checkers” to engage in censorship of conservative voices and views on their social media platforms, it’s natural that Republicans suspect a similar type of situation with Google’s email spam flaggers. By what mechanisms or algorithms is Google setting its spam filters, and who is determining the parameters?

A high percentage of Republican-sent emails were flagged, and the rate of flagging suddenly increased near the end of 2021 — a crucial time for party fundraising. As McDaniel noted, “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.” Ultimately, Google’s denials don’t quite pass the smell test.

Much of the reason Google’s denials won’t be believed by most Republicans, conservatives, and free speech advocates in general has to do with the fact that the tech giant has and continues to engage in various underhanded speech-suppressing behaviors. Google has intentionally weighted its search algorithms to produce results more in line with its own leftist ideological preferences rather than based purely upon a webpage’s popularity. Google also has sought to introduce prompts to make one write like a leftist.

In response to this abuse, Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced legislation that would prevent social media companies from filtering campaign emails as part of a larger effort to crack down on Big Tech’s speech suppression. If Republicans retake Congress in November, expect to see more action seeking to rein in the abuses of Big Tech.

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