Google plan would exempt political campaign emails from Gmail’s spam filter

Today’s election campaigns will use every possible form of communication to reach voters and raise funds. Following complaints about Gmail’s filtering, Google is proposing a plan to keep political “campaign emails from ending up in spam folders.”

According to Axios and confirmed by the company, Google wants the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) to approve a pilot program that would exempt campaign emails from Gmail spam protection in response to recent complaints about alleged partisanship. Google in May rejected these claims of bias and explained how:

Gmail employs a number of AI-driven filters that determine what gets marked as spam. These filters look at a variety of signals, including characteristics of the IP address, domains/subdomains, whether bulk senders are authenticated, and user input. User feedback, such as when a user marks a certain email as spam or signals they want a sender’s emails in their inbox, is key to this filtering process, and our filters learn from user actions. The new Gmail spam exemption would apply to “authorized candidate committees, political party committees and leadership political action committees registered with the FEC.” However, Google will prominently ask users the first time they receive an email about whether to keep hearing from that particular campaign.

The ability to opt-out remains available, while Gmail’s existing phishing, malware, and illegal content policies remain in effect. Additionally, you can still mark emails as spam, but Google won’t do it by default anymore.

“We recently asked the FEC to authorize a pilot program that may help improve inboxing rates for political bulk senders and provide more transparency into email deliverability, while still letting users protect their inboxes by unsubscribing or labeling emails as spam. We look forward to exploring new ways to provide the best possible Gmail experience.”

Until then, Google already encourages “bulk senders” to use Gmail’s Postmaster Tools to check the “health of their domain.”

We encourage bulk senders to engage with the Postmaster Tools site to access data and diagnostics that will help them better understand how to successfully reach their intended recipients. We are working to increase the amount and types of information we provide in Postmaster Tools.

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