Politicians like to accuse social media platforms of having political or ideological biases, but the real culprit in Big Tech might be your email provider.
Driving the news: During the 2020 campaign, Gmail was significantly more likely to flag fundraising emails from Republicans as spam, according to research from North Carolina State University.
- After analyzing more than 318,000 emails, researchers found that Gmail — Google’s email platform and the nation’s most popular email service — was nearly 60% more likely to mark Republican email as spam, but Outlook and Yahoo are both more likely to send emails from Democratic candidates to the spam folder, according to Axios.
- “Email providers point to factors such as past user behavior to explain the disparity and dismiss any suggestion of platform bias,” Axios wrote.
Why it matters: Last month, the Republican National Committee — along with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee — filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. They alleged the party missed out on over $2 billion in donations since 2019.
- “This is a financially devastating example of Silicon Valley tech companies unfairly shaping the political playing field to benefit their preferred far-left candidates,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, NRSC Chairman Rick Scott and NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said in a statement. “Companies like Google don’t think you have the right to hear both sides: They’d rather make the decision for you.”
- Google did not respond to comment about the FEC filing, according to The Hill, but had “previously rejected the findings of the ... study.”
Utah congressman responds: Utah’s Republican Rep. Blake Moore responded in a statement on Wednesday, saying the study demonstrates a “persistent double standard that Utahns are tired of navigating.”
- “For a free and fair democracy to thrive, it is important that all voices and perspectives — regardless of their political leaning — be accessible to consumers,” he continued. “Preventing the emails of particular political parties from reaching the inboxes of undecided voters may unduly influence elections.”
- “Each service provider should investigate their algorithms and eliminate this bias,” Moore said. “Reducing biases is a key way that technology companies can increase the public trust and quality of our discourse.”
The elephant in the room: Republican politicians are not happy with the news, writing to Google that its algorithms make it harder for GOP candidates to get elected.
- “I am particularly alarmed by this pattern because political dice-loading is nothing new for your company,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, according to Fox News. Hawley cited a threat from Google to remove conservative website The Federalist from its ad platform over “racist content” in its comment platform, as reported by Variety in 2020.
- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, both weighed in, according to the Houston Chronicle, alleging a conspiracy against conservative politicians.
- “Gmail is actively suppressing emails from Republicans from hitting your inbox,” Jackson said in a tweet. “Straight to SPAM! This is ELECTION INTERFERENCE! Big Tech is out of CONTROL!”