Does Gmail filter emails based on political beliefs?

In episode 14 of the Deliverability Defined podcast, Melissa and I debunk the idea that Gmail filters messages to spam based on political affiliation:

Does Gmail filter emails based on political beliefs?

Deliverability is a recent concern for some politicians

It’s election season, and with that comes controversy, advertising, and extra emails in your inbox. In recent years, there have been claims that email providers, specifically Gmail, have filtered emails based on political beliefs. Congressman Greg Steube from Florida complained to the CEO of Google because he believed that his emails were being filtered to spam because he is a Republican.

In a similar incident in 2019, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate, sued Gmail for $50 million. The lawsuit claimed that Google implemented a 6-hour suspension on her campaign ads and placed her emails into spam folders at a disproportionate rate to other politicians.

So, does Gmail filter emails based on political beliefs? As I hope we’ve shown throughout the previous episodes, the short answer is no, it doesn’t.

In this episode, we talk through several reasons why those claims are unfounded and what the real reason may be behind their emails ending up in spam folders.

Main takeaways

  • It’s true that political emails tend to experience more deliverability issues because of the inherent nature of the industry.
  • Most senders try to remain relevant throughout the year to maintain a healthy reputation. In many cases after elections, senders either stop sending altogether or send much less consistently, so their sender reputation takes a hit. This is similar to what we talked about in our Holiday promos episode.
  • Emails should contain at least some value to the reader. Some political emails just ask you to donate to their campaign or provide information about their platform, which is information you can find anywhere online.
  • Where emails end up speaks more to the skill of whoever is running a politician’s email marketing and less to any bias from Gmail.

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