For a long time, people have been looking for ways to get rid of spam on their computer. Most people know what this looks like. They include the banner ads that pop up at the top of the screen, the pop-up ads that block the entire window, certain emails we would (rather not) receive, and even the videos that play before we try to watch something on the internet. Spam filters have gotten better during the past few years, and not everyone is happy about it. One example is the Republican National Committee, which has filed a lawsuit against Google.
The lawsuit alleges that Google, one of the largest tech companies in the world, has been suppressing its email ads prior to the midterm elections, which are slated to take place in November. The lawsuit claims that Google has been discriminating against the RNC by placing its emails in spam folders. The lawsuit further claims that this has had a negative impact on its ability to raise money and connect with potential voters.
Google, in contrast, claims that spam filters are generally a result of its users’ actions and not based on political affiliation at all. Google further said that it offered training to teach organizations, regardless of political affiliation, how to send real emails to voters that do not get blocked by spam.
Independent organizations, including North Carolina State University, have found that spam filters and algorithms from Google are more likely to block messages from conservative causes rather than liberal ones. This means that Google’s spam filters could be more likely to place emails from the Republican National Committee in the spam folder. The RNC saw this and took advantage, calling upon the Federal Election Committee to investigate Google before filing a lawsuit.
It remains to be seen how the lawsuit will play out. Even though Google has released a program that is supposed to teach people how to get emails to their target markets, the RNC has decided not to participate in the program. Even though the lawsuit is unlikely to be resolved before the midterm elections play out, it does shine a spotlight on how spam filters may have an impact on politics moving forward.