The Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted on Thursday to allow Google to go ahead with a pilot program that would allow campaign emails to bypass spam filters. That plan was developed in response to heavy criticism of Gmail, which a study demonstrated filtered more conservative emails out as spam when compared to their leftist opponents.
The Hill reports that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted on Thursday to allow Google to push forward a pilot program for its email product Gmail that would allow campaign emails to bypass spam filters, a move that comes following accusations from Republicans that Gmail’s spam filters were biased against their campaign emails.
The FEC voted 4-1 to approve the program, stating that the test of new features is permissible under campaign law. Commissioner Elen Weintraub, a Democrat, voted against the order stating that she had “a hard time getting around the fact that this is a unique benefit offered to political committees, and only to political committees.”
Democratic Commissioner Dara Lindenbaum voted for the program alongside three Republicans but did note a number of similar hesitations: “I don’t want to [support this], and it’s for the same reasons all the commenters don’t want to, but I think the law and commissioner regulations and commission precedent permits this.”
She added: “I also don’t want to hamstring innovation and pilot programs. So if Google does move forward with this program, I hope it will reduce and not expand spam and increase best practices for bulk senders.”
Google requested approval from the FEC for the program in June after facing criticism from Republicans who showed that Gmail was filtering GOP emails to spam.
Breitbart News senior reporter Allum Bokhari wrote about the situation, stating:
Google’s Gmail, the most popular desktop email client in the world, disproportionately filters emails from conservatives to the “spam” folder where they are much less likely to be read, according to a recent study from North Carolina State University’s Department of Computer Science.
The paper, which can be read in full here, is titled A Peek into the Political Biases in Email Spam Filtering Algorithms During US Election 2020.
The study period covered five months from July to the end of November 2020 — the height of that year’s campaigning season for the presidential election. The researchers used over one hundred email addresses to subscribe to the email notification lists of the two presidential candidates, over seventy Senate candidates, and over a hundred and fifty house candidates.
The paper found a moderate bias toward the right in Outlook and Yahoo, and a large bias towardss the left in Gmail. According to the study, the Masters of the Universe at Google marked 59.3 percent more emails from conservative candidates as spam. Microsoft’s Outlook and Yahoo mail demonstrated a much smaller bias in favor of conservative candidates.
A Google spokesperson said the company will “reflect on the positive and negative feedback received during the public comment period.”
The spokesperson added: “Our goal during this pilot program is to assess alternative ways of addressing concerns from bulk senders, while giving users clear controls over their inboxes to minimize unwanted email. We will continue to monitor feedback as the pilot rolls out to ensure it is meeting its goals.”
Read more at the Hill here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan
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