If, like me, you spend as much time these days deleting unwanted crap from your Gmail inbox as you do actually using it for its intended communicative purpose, get ready for — surprise! — more of the same from the Search giant.
This week, Google is reportedly set to launch a pilot program, whereby political campaign emails that normally would have been filtered into your Gmail spam folder are going to, instead, join the overrun wasteland of your main inbox — giving you even more digital flotsam to purge and putting the onus on you to mark these things as spam after the fact.
Google could do this on the front end, of course. But it’s embarking on this pilot project as a result of campaigns howling that Gmail spam filters are … too good at what they do, apparently. Google asked the Federal Election Commission if it would be okay to undertake this project, and even though a flood of angry user responses poured into the election agency, it approved the plan anyway.
Campaign emails and Gmail spam
This follows complaints from Republicans that Gmail spam filters supposedly prevent too many campaign-related and fundraising emails from appearing in users’ inboxes. And since Google wants to avoid even the appearance of favoritism, here we are. Axios reported that the project gets underway in earnest this week.
MORE COVERAGE: How to unsend an email in Gmail
So sad to see the US government double-down on opt-out email marketing when the rest of the world is embracing permission & privacy. Political groups are some of the biggest spammers around. They should change their behaviors instead of strong-arming inbox providers with threats. https://t.co/geWtj9b4k3
— Chad S. White (@chadswhite) August 12, 2022
“During the pilot, users will be in control through a more prominent unsubscribe button,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda told Axios. Which feels a little like saying the entire town is going to show up to a party at your house, whether you want them there or not. But don’t worry — you’re still in control, because you can always just shoo them back out the door after they’ve arrived.
The thing that’s so annoying about this news is that, per Axios, the political emails that are allowed to skirt Gmail spam filters will include a banner on the first email that’s sent out. It will ask the user if they want to unsubscribe. The user can also request to keep seeing the messages, or they can mark them as spam.
Which, again, feels like not only the direction my Gmail inbox continues to go — but much of the internet, as well. I never signed up or agreed to see all the job offers, marketing crap, PR pitches, and more that I spend much of my day purging from my Gmail. The same way that services like Facebook and Instagram have now become overrun with algorithmically generated content from accounts that you don’t follow — but which the services are trying to guess that you might like.
This is one of the most insufferable aspects of any Internet service, and there are few things that elicit my hatred and disuse of such services faster.