Google Enhances Unsubscribe Options to Temper Political Spam Backlash

  • Gmail users are getting new tools to opt out of a political email test program.
  • Developers whipped up a “more prominent unsubscribe button” to offset spam filter changes.
  • MAGA stoked the reevaluation by claiming its messages were getting trashed more often than not.

Google has designed a readily-accessible escape hatch for those disinterested in scrolling through the flood of political emails expected while the internet behemoth implements a new pilot program that tweaks existing spam filters. 

“During the pilot, users will be in control through a more prominent unsubscribe button,” Google spokesman José Castañeda told Axios of the peace offering the tech giant baked into this week’s Gmail recalibration effort. 

The enhanced alert includes a banner affixed to the initial email from participating political campaigns, along with prompts to allow similar messages to flow through, unsubscribe, or report the messages as spam. 

The publicly contested program aims to loosen spam filter restrictions that previously kept Gmail users from having to manually purge political fundraising appeals from their inboxes. 

The policy change was sparked by conservatives complaining that Google automatically rerouted more of their emails to spam folders than others. The Federal Election Commission signed off on the plan in early August despite a flood of negative comments from the general public

Google’s bid to assuage MAGA supporters convinced they’re overly censored makes sense given that House Republicans have vowed to beef up oversight of Big Tech companies if they reclaim control of the chamber this fall. 

Republicans and Democrats alike have engaged in spammy, misleading, and even patently false email campaigns. That didn’t stop the Democratic National Committee from registering concerns that Google’s pilot program would foster “deceptive solicitations,” be to the “detriment of voters and our democracy,” and “place the burden on Google’s users themselves to protect their inboxes from unwanted political spam emails.

Google maintains that its  pilot program is “not intended to favor or disfavor any particular candidate, party or speaker, nor intended to influence the outcome of any election.”

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