In the face of a study out of North Carolina State University that indicates Google was unfairly directing emails from GOP lawmakers to recipients’ spam folders, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claims the Big Tech behemoth is intentionally ignoring senators’ questions on the subject.
Following a meeting with Google at the senator’s request, Cruz told Politico, “Google deflected, refused to provide any data, repeatedly refused to answer direct questions.”
The meeting, hosted by National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), reportedly included NRSC staffers and Republican political strategists, in addition to Google Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker.
The study found that Gmail directed 59.3% more emails from GOP candidates to spam than it did those from candidates on the left. Additionally, the report evidently reveals a political bias from Google in the months preceding the 2020 election.
“[Gmail] mark[s] emails with similar features from the candidates of one political affiliation as spam while it does not mark similar emails from the candidates of the other political affiliation as spam,” the study concluded.
.@twitter, @facebook, & @Google are getting more brazen in censoring dissent – posing an enormous threat to our free speech & our democracy. I will continue to lead the fight here in the Senate to protect free speech & stop the flagrant abuse of power from #BigTech. pic.twitter.com/g1fpnlynmw
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 18, 2020
But according to Walker, the filtering bias has nothing to do with political bias. The Google exec pointed to the researchers responsible for the study, who stated the discrepancies were more likely the result of “past user behavior.” Gmail is more likely to label something as spam if the user has marked similar emails as spam in the past. Strengthening this claim is the fact that the study found that on Outlook and Yahoo, more emails from Democrats were flagged as spam than those from Republicans.
“There is no political bias in how Gmail deals with spam — it applies the same rules to all bulk emails,” Google spokesperson Julie Tarallo McAlister told Politico. “Like most modern email providers, we seek to filter out spam to provide a better experience for users.”
“As always,” she added, “we plan to follow up with Senators on the specific concerns raised.”
The question of whether or not Google is intentionally throwing GOP emails into the virtual bin matters, as the study also found that, should an “undecided voter receives too many emails from one political party, there is a likelihood that they may get swayed towards that party.”
“Cruz alleges that this is a way to sway undecided voters to vote the way the liberal media wants them to vote,” Townhall reports.
Sen. Cruz has a long history of holding Big Tech’s feet to the fire for allegedly censoring conservative voices.
In November 2020, the outspoken senator tweeted, “.@twitter, @facebook, & @Google are getting more brazen in censoring dissent — posing an enormous threat to our free speech & our democracy.”
And last year, Cruz accused the Biden administration of using the Big Tech giants “as their tools to censor views they disagree with.”
“What’s ludicrous: They’re censoring views we now know are TRUE like where #COVID19 originated,” he tweeted.
The Biden administration is using Facebook, Twitter, and Google as their tools to censor views they disagree with.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 18, 2021
This most recent meeting with Google comes as a bill co-sponsored by Cruz and aimed at forcing Google to break up its multi-billion-dollar advertising business was introduced in the Senate.
Led by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), and also co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act would, if enacted, ban those companies that process in excess of $20 billion in digital ad transactions from engaging in more than one area of the overall digital advertising ecosystem.
As Google has its big, techie hands in nearly every aspect of digital advertising, from operating tools to assist companies with their ad sales and purchase to running the exchanges where lightning-fast ad transactions happen daily, the company, which generated $31.7 billion in 2021, could potentially lose a fortune.
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