With executives representing four of the biggest tech companies in the world testifying before Congress on Wednesday, Rep. Greg Steube had a pressing question to ask Google chief Sundar Pichai: why are his campaign emails going directly to Gmail’s spam folder?
“My parents, who have a Gmail account, aren’t getting my campaign emails,” the Republican lawmaker from Florida told Pichai. Steube then said one of his supporters had the same issue recently, despite not having a problem getting his campaign emails for a decade.
“This appears to only be happening to conservative Republicans,” Steube added. “My question is, why is this only happening to Republicans?”
Pichai responded gently, saying there wasn’t a nefarious plan to keep Rep. Steube’s emails from his followers.
“In Gmail, we are focused on what users want. And users have indicated they want us to organize their personal emails — emails they receive from friends and family — separately,” Pichai said.
Rep. Steube pressed a bit more, saying the “familial thing” clearly didn’t apply to his campaign emails going to his dad. Pichai said Gmail didn’t have the “context” to realize the campaign emails were being sent from son to father.
Below is a clip of Rep. Steube’s Gmail questions:
Rep. Steube complains to Google CEO about his campaign emails going to Gmail spam boxes and says that it's only happening to republicans. (No, pretty much every campaign deals with email delivery issues.) pic.twitter.com/XH1floO9ff
— Tony Webster (@webster) July 29, 2020
The exchange took place during the House Antitrust Subcommittee’s hearing on Wednesday, which featured testimony from Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook. The hearing was supposed to focus primarily on whether the tech giants had stifled competition by violating antitrust policy, but there were several moments where the hearing took bizarre turns. Pichai faced more pertinent questions at other points on Wednesday, including questions on whether Google has too cozy of a relationship with China’s government.