The Republican National Committee sued Google on Friday in a California federal court, alleging the tech giant intentionally diverted millions of RNC emails to the spam folders of supporters and potential donors to throttle its political speech. The RNC’s lawsuit proves significant both factually and legally.
Factually, the lawsuit details extensive circumstantial evidence indicating Google has manipulated its email service to disadvantage the Republican organization. The RNC’s 28-page complaint reveals that “for most of each month, nearly all of the RNC’s emails make it into users’ inboxes,” but that “at approximately the same time at the end of each month, Google sends to spam nearly all of the RNC’s emails.” “Critically, and suspiciously,” the complaint continues, “this end of the month period is historically when the RNC’s fundraising is most successful.”
The RNC’s complaint further claims it worked with Google for 10 months to resolve the issue but received only ever-changing excuses, failed solutions, and eventually silence, leading it to conclude, “Google is intentionally sending critical RNC emails to the spam folder because it’s the RNC sending them.” To support that inference, the RNC highlights the low “inboxing rate” an outside firm found for RNC emails at select times of the month.
The “inboxing rate” represents the percentage of times a sender’s email reaches a user’s inbox. The RNC retained a leader in the field of assessing inboxing rates, called Validity, which used a platform to analyze said rate. According to the complaint, Validity performed a statistical analysis to assess the rate of RNC emails that reached the inbox versus the spam filter. And because the RNC’s email list consists solely of people who have requested to receive emails from the RNC, the Republican organization maintains that few if any emails should reach the spam filter.
But the statistical analysis uncovered “egregious discrimination” that began at least in February of 2022, according to the lawsuit. That month, the RNC explained in its complaint, as it began working on matters related to the 2022 midterm election, its “‘inboxing’ rate suddenly dropped from rates consistently above 90% to nearly 0% on certain days during the last week of each month.” An “inboxing rate” of nearly 0 percent means that almost every email sent from the RNC to a Gmail user ended up in the spam folder.
To support its claim that Google purposefully pushed RNC emails to recipients’ spam folders, the RNC complaint cataloged the various explanations Google provided for the problem and refuted them. The RNC also stressed that, unlike Google, neither Yahoo! Mail nor Microsoft’s Outlook Mail had “inboxing” rates dropping to nearly 0 percent.
Additionally, the RNC cited a recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University that found “Google’s Gmail labels significantly more campaign emails from Republican political candidates as spam than campaign emails from Democratic political candidates.” Specifically, that study “found that Gmail labeled only 8.2% of Democratic campaign emails as spam, compared with 67.6% of Republican campaign emails.”
Based on these factual allegations, the RNC
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