Google will soon launch a pilot program to prevent political campaign emails from going directly into users' spam folders, according to Axios.
The new program, which could be implemented later this week, comes seven weeks before the midterm elections (Nov. 8).
Last month, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) approved Google's plan to seemingly bring more balance to how election emails are handled, after conservatives reportedly claimed that Republican emails were directed to spam folders more than Democrat-related messages.
To get the program rolling, eligible political action committees — while still adhering to Google's security requirements and best practices — can soon register for participation.
From there, political campaigns would no longer be affected by Gmail's standard forms of spam detection, though Gmail will keep scanning messages for phishing and malware, according to Axios.
Email users would still have the option to move politically charged messages to spam folders; but now, this process would require a manual setting.
According to Axios, users will initially encounter a banner email, regarding participants in the program, asking if they want to keep seeing the messages, unsubscribe, or report the material as spam.
"We expect to begin the pilot with a small number of campaigns from both parties and will test whether these changes improve the user experience, and provide more certainty for senders during this election period," Google spokesperson José Castañeda recently told Axios. "We will continue to listen and respond to feedback as the pilot progresses."
Castañeda added: "During the pilot, users will be in control through a more prominent unsubscribe button."
Political parties likely view targeted emails and fundraising initiatives as a lifeblood for various campaigns. In that vein, Google's pilot program might not get much pushback from the respective political groups.
However, from the consumers' side, Axios suggests the program might elicit user angst in the early stages.
In a previous piece, Axios included three anonymous user comments, regarding Google's prospective project:
- User #1: "Absolutely not. This is a terrible idea that would open the floodgates to even more spammy and abusive political advertisements. No."
- User #2: "Google's idea to allow unsolicited political emails to bypass spam filtering has to be one of the most asinine ideas I've ever heard of. Such email is certainly spam, and needs to be treated as such."
- User #3: "I will quit email altogether if un-blockable political emails enter my inbox and turn the experience into social media. My mental health is at stake."
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