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Google Is Going to Let Politicians Spam Your Inbox

The company’s latest pitch for Gmail is a sop to Republicans and a disaster for users.

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Illustration: John Provencher for Bloomberg Businessweek

On June 21, Google parent Alphabet Inc. floated a plan to fix a problem it had identified in its spam filters. The solution was specifically aimed at political spam, the kind likely to pour in during an especially noisy midterm election season. Unfortunately for all of us, Google seems to have decided the problem is that it filters too much spam—and the solution is to let politicians run wild with polling updates, merch solicitations, and frantic fundraising pleas.

In a filing to the Federal Election Commission, the company proposed suspending Gmail spam filters on messages from political parties and candidates as part of a plan to “enhance user and bulk sender experience.” This pilot program, to be rolled out during the upcoming election cycle, will still allow Gmail users to manually unsubscribe from each unwanted email list. (How generous.) They’ll have to do it, however, by clicking on one thirsty form letter at a time.