The updated Gmail filter will allow emails from certain federal candidates to go straight into your inbox. To unsubscribe, you’ll need to click a new button on each of the senders. Check out this video to see how it works.
Google says it’s a pilot program, and so far they have not been able to implement this in any other email providers. However, it is quite controversial because it will be difficult for people who would like to not be bothered with political emails. It also doesn’t seem to make sense since Google is doing this on request from politicians.
Getting new articles is important for society, but before the internet and smartphones, you would need to go to a library to find articles. Getting too many political emails or robocalls could be annoying and sometimes dangerous. Users don’t want to deal with that, so software developers created systems to help them block it out.
The Google plan to help politicians spam you gives us an opportunity to rethink what’s gone awry about campaigning online.
“The spammers find their way into my inbox as well,” Federal Election Commission commissioner Ellen Weintraub said. The politicians have exempted themselves from a lot of the rules that might apply.
If we want to fight back against politicians who take our data and make a mockery of using it, we need to find ways to make politicians more accountable for how they treat our inboxs and emails.
A plan only a politician could love
Google created a Google advertisement that politicians will be able to buy and have sent to Gmail’s 1.5 billion users as spam. This is an end-run around Gmail’s spam filters which protect its users from spam, scams and malware.
Over the next few weeks, election emails can start to show up in the primary inbox in Gmail. Emails will be color coded (gray) and it will be easier to unsubscribe from the email by clicking on a box at the top of the page.
When you open a scam or spam email for the first time, you will see an unsubscribe button. It will only show up in Google’s Gmail app or online.
Google doesn’t know how many politicians will participate in this pilot, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Google has put restrictions in place that may discourage some forms of bad behavior. They have limited participants in the auction to just 2,000, and they will only be allowed to bid on 100. Other rules are also likely being put in place to make sure no one campaign gains too much access.
Employees are afraid to even try to meet the criteria of an organization.
Google’s announcement of the new Gmail spam filter has been met with criticisms that it is politically motivated. The email traffic on the internet consists of unwanted messages that are already filtered by spam filters such as those developed by Google, and the recent announcement by Google only serves to point out these existing features that have been available for years.
Republican lawmakers claim that Google discriminates against Republican emails to the point where they can’t contact people easily. A report from North Carolina State University states that Gmail will not filter out certain emails. The author points out that their findings are being misrepresented, even though it is true.
Google denies any political bias in it’s spam filter, but hopes politicians will see its new program as a solution to their current fundraising woes.
The CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology has said that exceptions to the spam filter should not be allowed to happen. They are citing little evidence that this is an issue even though we expect personal privacy needs to be a serious concern.
we can do better
How to make democracy less annoying — and dangerous — online
Politicians can do anything online without consequences. There are few rules for spam, robocalls, and personal data. This means that even if you click “unsubscribe” you’ll end up getting even more messages in the future.
Weintraub explains that there are a lot of steps to unsubscribe from an newsletter, with the option being buried in a number of different places.
Gmail could help, too, by making changes that start with its own users. The product should offer one-click tools that enable us to banish emails to queues or tabs. Gmail should give us an unsubscribe setting for future messages as well.
Google has a good idea buried in their larger terrible one. Gmail plans to start monitoring participants in its pilot that actually complete unsubscribe requests within 24 hours, as well as punishing senders who get flagged as spam by more than 5% of users.
Regularly known as “lead-napping” or hacking, this behavior is done because it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to buy these voter registration lists. These voter registration lists are then traded around without invasive. As a way to counteract this activity, the government requests that companies selling databases of who owns what email address black out the last four digits of their phone numbers.
Politicians invade the privacy of members of the general public, gathering sensitive data and selling it to advertisers or other sources. The Republicans National Committee has even more than 3,000 data points about voters’ personal information that are used for creating targeted ads against them.
Campaigns often say political speech should given special protection. But data gathering and selling is also a form of speech under the First Amendment, and current precedent doesn’t favor consumers.
Weintraub said, “I am sympathetic to people who are deluged and don’t want it any more. But we want to make sure we preserve venues for candidates to speak to their potential constituents. It’s a harder question when you’re talking about political messaging than it is when you’re talking about people trying to sell you soap.”
California is one of the toughest in regards to privacy laws. Companies are prohibited from selling and keeping certain personal data, and they must delete it when no longer needed. With heavy regulation being imposed on corporates, what would happen with democracy if politicians were also subjected to these rules?
“What we want is strong privacy protections across the board,” says Givens of the Center for Democracy & Technology. “We want there to be a free flow of information around different campaigns and movements.”
Politicians can now send out personalized text messages and emails in varying formats that create a strong impact on the voter. The worst part of this is that each message can use misinformation to misguide the audience.
It is more difficult to regulate harmful content in emails.
At the moment, Google is not obligated to monitor deceitful emails. However, they should not be checking our email in order to make sure all of the messages are truthful.
To establish accountability, researchers could make public the emails that are being reported as spam. Google could also label emails known to be coming from the biggest offenders.
Unfortunately, all the emails are collected and saved, although many have argued that politicians should be held to a higher standard. “Going further, yes, I would also advocate that all political organization emails be made public as well,” Stromer-Galley said.
Politicians are defining their own rules, and they are damaging their credibility by aligning themselves with people on the internet.