The Republican National Committee (RNC) is suing Google, alleging the tech giant is “unlawfully discriminating” against it by diverting its campaign emails to users’ spam folders, according to a lawsuit.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern California on Friday, alleges the tech company filtered a number of the RNC’s campaign emails to spam folders, particularly towards the end of the month, a crucial donation time.
“Google has relegated millions of RNC emails en masse to potential donors’ and supporters’ spam folders during pivotal points in election fundraising and community building,” the complaint said. “The timing of Google’s most egregious filtering is particularly damning. For most of each month, nearly all of the RNC’s emails make it into users’ inboxes. At approximately the same time at the end of each month, Google sends to spam nearly all of the RNC’s emails.”
The Committee said it was in regular communication with Google and attempted to fix problems Google identified in its messaging, but the fixes didn’t work.
“Google’s discrimination has already caused the RNC to lose valuable revenue in California and the rest of the country, and Google’s conduct will continue to cost the RNC further revenue in the coming weeks as the 2022 midterm election looms, and beyond,” the RNC said in the complaint. “Perhaps worse, Google’s conduct has caused the RNC to lose its ability to communicate voting information and other political messaging to its supporters during the critical midterm elections. This harm is irreparable and must be stopped.”
This is not the first time Google has been accused of favoring Democrats over Republicans. In 2016, Google was accused of manipulating search results to favor then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. More recently, the FEC and Google reached an agreement in August that would mitigate some of the RNC’s claims: a pilot program that would keep eligible political campaign emails out of spam folders.
The August agreement came after Republican politicians made similar criticism as the RNC, citing a March study from North Carolina State University which found that Google was more likely to mark right-wing candidate emails as spam versus their left-wing counterparts. But, the Washington Post reported the National Republican Senate Committee was collecting signatures for a letter calling the pilot program “unacceptable.”
The lawsuit makes no mention of the new pilot program, and the RNC did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit’s timing or if the pilot program mitigated the need for a lawsuit.
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*First Published: Oct 24, 2022, 3:14 pm CDT
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.