As Expected, FEC Easily Tosses Out GOP’s Whiny Complaint About Google Classifying Their Spam As Spam

from the one-bit-of-nonsense-gone dept

Over the last year, we’ve been covering a whiny, victim-playing, bit of nonsense, inspired and pushed by a firm whose main business seems to be running spam email campaigns for Republican politicians, that Google is “unfairly” putting their campaign emails into the spam folder. This was all kicked off when some of these Republican spammer consultants noticed that they weren’t raising as much money from email blasts leading up to the 2022 midterms. Then, they misread a study from some computer scientists, saying that Gmail put a higher percentage of GOP campaign emails into spam than Democrats. They ignored that the opposite was true for other popular email systems (Outlook and Yahoo put more Dem emails into spam) and that the impact went away as soon as a user did minimal “training” on what they wanted in their inbox.

Even worse, they ignored that their own email hygiene practices were so dismal, that even some of the biggest partisan GOP supporters were yelling about the GOP’s spam problem.

Basically: the GOP did a lot more spamming, didn’t understand how email worked, and didn’t understand why people were less interested in funding their campaigns (remember in the previous election cycle, Republicans had to refund a ton of money because their spammy, scammy emails tricked people into donating way more than they intended?).

In short, a key plank of the GOP platform last year was “we’re the party that wants to fill your inbox with spam.” Not surprisingly, the public was almost universally against this idea.

And then, rather than being the “party of personal responsibility,” they played the victim and blamed Google every way they could. The first step was to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, claiming that Google was conducting an illegal “in-kind” contribution to Democrats. We predicted at the time that “this FEC complaint will go nowhere,” and, ta da, it turns out we were right.

As first reported by Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica, the FEC has easily dismissed the complaint, noting that it’s clear that the Gmail spam filter is there for commercial purposes (i.e., the public wants a spam filter, obviously) and not to suppress political messaging:

Here, the available information indicates that Google’s spam filter is in place for commercial, rather than electoral, purposes. Even presuming that the NCSU Study is both sufficiently rigorous and well-designed to establish that the spam filter has a disparate impact on Republican and Democratic candidate emails, the fact that a service or action benefits a candidate is not dispositive of whether a contribution results, so long as the purpose for that service or action is a bona fide commercial reason rather than for the purpose of influencing a federal election. As Google has stated in its public filings, its brand is “negatively affected” by “reputational issues, third-party content shared on [its] platforms, . . . and product or technical performance failures.” Spam emails, which it contends constituted nearly half of all emails sent in 2021, may contain malware, phishing attacks, and scams designed to exploit and extort users; and Google has stated in its public blog that “a big part of Gmail’s draw is its built-in security protections” designed to subvert these threats

As we had noted in some of our other articles on this, the authors of the original study had come out to criticize those (i.e., whiny, spammy, Republicans) who misrepresented their study, and the FEC took notice of this as well.

As Google’s Response states, Muhammad Shahzad, “a lead author of the Study[,] has since publicly stated that those who claim the Study demonstrates political bias are mischaracterizing it.”

And, with that, the complaint is dismissed.

Other nonsense efforts continue to play out. I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans in the House reintroduce a special bill that says no politician emails can ever go to spam (because, boy, does Congress ever love introducing bills that exempt Congress from what the rest of the country must face).

There’s also the laughably stupid lawsuit that the Republican National Committee filed against Google on this same issue. That lawsuit is still ongoing, and Google’s response to the complaint is due next week. The case is going to flop as well.

All of this, of course, is just the standard grift. If you can’t actually appeal to the base, find someone to blame for your own failings. And then pretend that you’re a victim and that you’re suing to “stand up” against the big bad bullies who are… moving your spam emails to the spam folders, where they belong.

Of course, we know this is all bad faith nonsense, because Google created a special program for politicians to get out of the spam filter anyway… and no Republicans took them up on the program.

One day, it would be nice to have politicians who are actually interested in crafting policy that is best for the American public, rather than playing stupid games. That day is not today.

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Comments on “As Expected, FEC Easily Tosses Out GOP’s Whiny Complaint About Google Classifying Their Spam As Spam”

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36 Comments
Dan (profile) says:

Re: I think you nailed it...

TheResidentSkeptic’s comment is right on point, IMHO. Some people never consider that frequency is one of the things that makes spam. I’ve seen something useless only once or twice… not spam. I’ve seen very useful things in my box every other day… spam. Many times the value, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. If you send it to me every other day, I’ll have no choice but to get it out of the way. And the algorithms are going to figure out that my preferences.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Of course, we know this is all bad faith nonsense, because Google created a special program for politicians to get out of the spam filter anyway… and no Republicans took them up on the program.

That really needs to be hammered home any time this grossly dishonest argument is raised. They were granted special treatment in the form of a program that would allow their emails to bypass the spam filter they claimed were unfairly targeting them and rather than jump on it they just kept making the same claims about how Google has to be forced to give them extra-special treatment and not allow their emails to be rightly flagged as spam by anyone.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It was a tantrum aimed at playing to the Eternal Victims(tm) that are them and their supporters but I suspect a bigger reason they didn’t take the offer up is that if a sufficient number of users flagged their emails as spam they would go right back to the same treatment as everyone else gets, and allowing the users to make clear they weren’t interested would rather effectively torpedo the ‘it’s Google’s fault our emails are treated as spam’ lie.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

You are such a far left liberal

It has always cracked me up when one side of the political aisle claims Mike is being biased about this or that. I’ve been reading this site for a decade and have seem Mike call out stupid shit from BOTH sides consistently.

Does it seem that the right has been subjected to this more so lately? Probably does. But it’s not Mike’s fault that the right has been doing the majority of the stupid shit these days, is it?

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Matthew M Bennett says:

Re: Re:

I’ve been reading this site for a decade and have seem Mike call out stupid shit from BOTH sides consistently.

I’ve been reading it for 20 years or so (well, I stopped, cuz Masnick went so far Left). I can only assume you are also very liberal therefore he looks more moderate to you.

Regardless, he really only uses the angry, derisive emotionally charged language on Republicans. Like most liberals, it’s gotten a lot more vitriolic since 2016.

He’s a little more economically literate than AOC (not a lot) but he has basically the same spot on the political spectrum.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I can only assume you are also very liberal therefore he looks more moderate to you.

You have no clue as to who I am. I’m the proverbial “swing vote”. I identify with neither the left nor the right. My votes have been cast in support of issues I deem important. And to be honest, I tended to lean conservative most of my life, especially in the 80’s and 90’s when I worked for a Fortune 500 energy company.

I will say this though, never in my life have I voted a straight ticket for either party. That is until Jan.6 happened. I’ve voted straight ticket for the Democrats twice now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I will say this though, never in my life have I voted a straight ticket for either party. That is until Jan.6 happened. I’ve voted straight ticket for the Democrats twice now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Just shows that the U.S. system is broken. Democracy is rather pointless if you don’t get more than a single real choice that isn’t batshit crazy.

Essentially, a two-party system is too prone to devolve into a one-party system, and then you could equally well have communism. Admittedly, you can still easily devolve from having a system with a single sane party to one having no sane party at all because where is the impetus in staying sane if voters have no alternative?

Really, it’s a wonder that the Republican Party managed to replace the Whigs. But then the system was younger and had not yet ossified into its power-preserving-at-all-cost state.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Lockdowns mostly happened under the Trump admin, but yeah, sure, go ahead and keep rewriting history to suit your biased, partisan-stained outlook on the world.

And the vaccine remains optional, not mandatory, even as it is life saving, and the fact that the political party of Donald Trump (who could legitimately take credit for speeding up the development of the vaccine) has turned its back on science, means that they’re dying at a faster rate from Covid, potentially impacting elections.

https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/once-covid-vaccines-were-introduced-more-republicans-died-than-democrats

So, no, lockdowns were not a particularly Democrat-induced idea, and no one is forced to get the vaccine, even as it is life saving.

Your desire to live in a fantasy world, devoid of reality, remains noted.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Lockdowns mostly happened under the Trump admin, but yeah, sure, go ahead and keep rewriting history to suit your biased, partisan-stained outlook on the world.

Worthwhile to point out that to the extent any ‘lockdowns’ might have happened a huge portion of the blame can almost certainly be laid at the feet of the anti-vax, pro-plague maskholes who by their self-centered sociopathic stance of ‘my personal comfort matters more than the lives of everyone around me’ not only kept the spread of the virus alive and well but basically forced the government to stop asking people to be responsible and order them to.

If everyone who could acted responsibly by getting the damn shot when it became available, staying home when possible and masking up and social distancing when that wasn’t an option and they had to leave the house I’ve no doubt that things would have been a fraction as bad as they were, with the more hardcore restrictions few and far between because they wouldn’t have been needed.

Or in tl;dr format: The people whining about how the government was ‘restricting their freedoms’ and ‘telling them what to do’ the most during the pandemic were the second biggest cause of that problem after the virus itself.

Slim_Dickins says:

Re: Re: Re:

“democrats literally thought they could lock the entire country in their homes and force you to take an injection, you dumbass”

Is your example one of governing or rule?

How does your reply address the claim in the comment to which you replied?

As far as being dumb, you claim the vaccine is mandatory for the general public?

Matthew M Bennett is an Anti-Vaccine nutter. Is Matt also a Flat Earther?

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