For years, Google has been using algorithms to automatically classify user Gmail emails, some of which go into spam, some of which are identified as malicious, and some of which are sent to promotional email folders. This feature can be used to classify unwanted e-mail messages and to discard e-mail messages that do not require user attention. But new research suggests that Google’s email classification algorithm is becoming one of the hot spots of political campaigning in a big election year like 2020.
The research, conducted by Markup reporters, took more than four months and involved the use of Tor to create a brand new Gmail account to block factors that could affect Google’s automated email classification algorithm. The account was used to register campaign-related emails sent by all 16 presidential candidates, including Democrats and Republicans, and received more than 5,000 emails from 171 groups, and the study found that the Trump campaign never sent an e-mail.
The report found that not all of these emails were sent directly to the Promotions or Spam folders because some of them were sent to the home folder. The “winners” of the home folder are Pete Buttigieg (63%) and Andrew Yang (47%). In theory, the two would allow Gmail users who subscribe to political campaign emails to receive more.
The report’s overall conclusion is that Google’s algorithm for sorting emails may have a direct impact on a candidate’s ability to raise money. As a result, Google may influence elections through its products. However, this test is not perfect because we only see how one email account receives mail.