Report: Gmail Censorship Cost GOP Candidates $2 Billion in Fundraising
According to a study conducted at North Carolina University, the spam filtering algorithm used by Google’s Gmail blocks roughly 77.2% of Republican fundraising emails and 10% of Democratic fundraising emails.
Gmail is by far the most popular email platform in the United States and is used by roughly 44% of American adults.
To conduct the study, researchers created multiple Gmail accounts with various demographics and tracked the activity of spam filtering algorithms (SFAs) over five months. Not only did researchers note the partisan findings above, but they also found that the percentage of GOP emails blocked increased during the weeks leading up to Election Day.
Based on the amount of emails blocked and the amount of money raised by the Republican Party, Gmail is estimated to have cost GOP candidates over $2 billion in donations since 2019.
“Big Tech has been silencing conservative voices and actively working against Republicans for multiple cycles,” argues RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “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.”
As expected, Google denied the accusation and said it had already “debunked” the theory that its SFAs were politically biased.
“Gmail automatically adjusts the classifications of particular emails according to” users’ actions, said a spokesperson, including what kind of emails a person lists as spam.
The spokesperson added that Gmail users have the ability to allow or prevent campaign messages from going to spam, but did not comment on how a person would know to unblock a message if it never appeared in their inbox.
The report highlights a lack of transparency regarding the “internal workings” of Gmail’s SFAs and notes the possibility of election meddling, even if not deliberate.
“Given the lack of transparency, an important question to study is whether these SFAs hold any biases towards certain political affiliations…This question is motivated by the growing body of evidence suggesting that the biases in online algorithms can influence undecided voters.”
The researchers said they were unable to find a reliable method to reduce political bias in the way Gmail handles political emails.
“The fairness of spam filtering algorithms is an important problem that needs dedicated attention from email service providers,” concludes the report, “particularly due to the enormous influence that electronic communication has in our lives today and will have going forward.”
Author’s Note: We already know that Google is biased in favor of Democrats, but $2 billion is a huge swing and the company should be penalized. GOP lawmakers have already introduced a proposal to ban email platforms from automatically blocking political campaign emails, but the idea is unlikely to garner support from Democrats given the fact that their emails are already going through.
Google’s Gmail censorship cost GOP candidates $2B since 2019, Republicans say, citing new study
Republicans says Google spam filter cost them $2 billion from donors
Google’s Gmail favors left-wing candidates, sends far more emails from conservatives to spam: study
A Peek into the Political Biases in Email Spam Filtering Algorithms During US Election 2020
Whoever said that someday we wouldn’t recognize our country was right
From WAPO: With regards to claims made by Republicans, the study authors said: “Our study does not make any such conclusion,” Muhammad Shahzad, one of its lead authors, said of Daines’s claim in the group’s first media interview on the topic.”
He added: “while the paper “demonstrates that there is a bias” under certain circumstances across services, it “has nothing in it that demonstrates that someone is deliberately trying to turn the elections.”
The error in conclusion by Alice and others: “Shahzad said while the spam filters demonstrated political biases in their “default behavior” with newly created accounts, the trend shifted dramatically once they simulated having users put in their preferences by marking some messages as spam and others as not.
“What we saw was after they were being used, the biases in Gmail almost disappeared, but in Outlook and Yahoo they did not,” he said.””
In other words, the system auto modifies based on usage and the bias disappears. The authors note that this is the more significant conclusion.
Plus, the algorithm studied was two years old, a newer version is featured today.