People in the industry refer to your email list as your “owned audience,” but it turns out you might not own it after all. The companies that run the major email systems tend to be on the left. My own organization moved away from MailChimp on account of apparent political bias that obstructed our ability to send emails, without restriction, to tens of thousands of email subscribers.
Now, the Republican National Committee is suing Google, alleging that Gmail is discriminating against Republicans during a crucial fundraising season:
The Republican National Committee is suing Google for its allegedly biased diversion of emails into recipients’ spam folders — and says it has the receipts to prove it.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in a California federal court, claims that the party’s email analytics programs have documented a 10-month pattern of email suppression toward the end of each month, “historically when the RNC’s fundraising is most successful,” the suit complains.
Since December, GOP emails to Gmail users who had opted into receiving them reached their in-boxes at a rate of 90% or better on most days of each month, the RNC alleged.
But repeatedly, for two or more days toward the end of each month, nearly 100% of the party’s emails were marked as spam, automatically routing them to an email folder that few users check.
Google denies any bias in its email algorithm. But then, there is this:
Researchers at North Carolina State University who studied email patterns ahead of the 2020 presidential election found that Google’s Gmail algorithm labeled GOP fundraising e-mails as spam at a rate 820% higher than Democratic Party messages, sparking a formal Republican complaint to the Federal Election Commission.
I don’t know whether the RNC’s complaint is well-founded or not, but, given everything we have learned about Big Tech, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. What I will say for certain is that the companies that control email traffic are an often-overlooked, but extremely important, sector of Big Tech.