Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote Google CEO Sundar Pichai a message on Wednesday, demanding answers in reaction to a recent survey that revealed the internet giant’s spam email screening algorithms had political bias in 2020.
“New evidence shows that your company is making it far more difficult for conservatives to reach their followers, while making it very easy for Democrats to reach theirs,” Hawley said, noting the internet is critical for election candidates to reach people.
The research, “A Look into the Political Prejudices in Email Spam Filtering Systems During US Election 2020,” was released last week by North Carolina State University’s School of Computer Science.
Researchers generated 102 email servers on Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo for the study, which lasted from July 1, 2020, to November 30, 2020, and registered two candidates for president, 78 Senate applicants, and 156 House applicants.
💥NO MORE #Google.. I've Been Google Free 7-Months💥
I Use https://t.co/khO84x12jK 🦆🦆😂
Don’t Need Google Spying or Sensoring Me 🇺🇸
TRY DuckDuckGo FOR 5-Days and YOU'LL NEVER GO BACK TO GOOGLE-SPY-DemocRat-Assholes…!!!!
— ☆DemocRat Punisher☆ (@JuicyPieTaster) April 11, 2018
According to the study, “all [spam filtering systems] demonstrated political biases in the months prior to the 2020 U.S. elections.”
Google’s Gmail was even more biased, diverting emails from Republican presidential candidates to spam.
“We also notice that Gmail classifies a substantially greater number of emails from the right (67.6%) as spam than those from the left (just 8.2%),” the researchers said.
“In comparison to the left candidates, Gmail flagged 59.3 percent more messages from the right candidates as junk mail.”
The study also found as Election Day neared, the proportion of emails categorized as junk from right-wing candidates grew, whereas the proportion of emails classified as spam from left-wing parties remained relatively constant.
The conclusions of the North Carolina study were disputed by a Google official. “Political affiliation has no influence on message classifications in Gmail,” the official told Fox News Digital.
“We’ve disproved this claim, which has surfaced occasionally from across the political scale, for many years.”
“Gmail’s mail categorization alter dynamically to meet the preferences and behaviors of Gmail users. Messages can be moved to spam or any other category in Gmail. According to these user activities, Gmail automatically updates the classifications of certain emails.”
This is Google’s Old Trick
“Political dice-loading is really nothing new for the organization,” Hawley said, referencing Google’s threats to ban conservative website, The Federalist, from its online platform, due to the nature of its comments section.
Hawley also highlighted how YouTube, which itself is owned by Google, consistently deplatforms and demonetizes Republicans, as well as how a Wall Street Journal study in 2019 discovered Google fiddles with its algorithm and autocomplete recommendations to favor certain opinions.
Google sensoring topics, that wouldn't happen in our day and age…about any topics at all…. pic.twitter.com/4zW5Sj6RIl
— baud cerial (@osmo35195362) April 18, 2022
Hawley particularly asked Pichai to explain Google’s apparent history of bias, as well as how scientists could have determined user behavior was not the main factor of spam filtering, as Google asserts.
He also sought to know why Google’s filtering engine is more apparent than that of other email programs, why Republicans were screened more as Election Day neared, and what efforts Google is taking to check for bias in its algorithms.