Gmail users should see more campaign fundraising emails appear in their inboxes in the coming days as Google begins rolling out a new political filtering system.
Google told axios on Monday that it launched a controversial new pilot program to keep campaign emails out of spam folders this week. Announced in June, the program allows candidates, political party committees and political action committees of leaders to request spam folder exemptions.
In August, the Federal Election Commission narrowly voted to approve the program after Google asked the agency to sign it earlier this year.
The move comes after months of criticism from Republicans who fear Google disproportionately marks GOP emails as spam compared to their Democratic counterparts. Earlier this year, a North Carolina State University investigation suggested the Republicans’ allegations were true, sparking a political storm among conservatives who believe Silicon Valley tech companies are falsely biased against them. The outcry led Republicans such as House minority group leader Kevin McCarthy to introduce legislation that prohibits biased email filtering.
“We expect to start the pilot with a small number of campaigns from both parties and will test whether these changes improve the user experience and give senders more certainty during this election period,” said Google spokesman José Castañeda. axios on Monday.
Google’s program could be a boon to Republicans whose political fundraising war chest has plummeted ahead of the November midterms. In July, The Washington Post reported that Democrats far outnumbered Republicans in small-dollar donations made primarily online. The National Republican Senatorial Commission raised a record $181 million in late July, but had spent more than 95 percent of that proceeds in August, months before the general election. according to The New York Times last month.