Donate Your Junk Emails to Us!

You can help us shine a light on how political parties and politicians use emails to target messages to voters. All you need to do is send those campaign emails you are being bombarded with to the Project DATA study team.

To set up a filter on your email system to do just that, follow the directions below. Or forward individual messages to

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Outlook Exchange Mail
Add the Project DATA team to your account for automatic forwarding

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the down arrow next to the gear icon and select “Settings.”
  3. Click on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. [If you are logged into your account, this link will take you there automatically.
  4. Click the button “Add a Forwarding Address.” This step makes it possible for the Project DATA team to receive your automatically forwarded messages.
  5. Enter, followed by “next” and “proceed” on the proceeding screens.
  6. Once we approve your email address for automatic forwarding, you are ready to set up a filter.

ALERT: On the same “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, make sure that “Forward a copy of incoming mail” is not selected to send messages automatically to We do not want to receive all of your messages, just those that you automatically filter. More information is available here.

How to set up a Gmail filter.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the down arrow in your search box. A window that allows you to specify your search criteria will appear. Gmail Search Box
  3. Enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, click the search button. We suggest searching using the “From:” field and typing the URL of the campaign whose emails you wish to forward.
  4. Click Create filter with this search at the bottom of the search window. If you need to verify the search results, you can click the x to collapse the filter options. Clicking the down arrow again will bring the window back with the same search criteria you entered.
  5. Click “Add Forwarding Address” and select as well as any other action(s) you want the filter to take.

More detailed directions are available here.

Special Tip! Use an Address Alias with a Plus Sign!

Did you know that when you sign up for campaign messages, you can use a plus (“+”) sign in your Gmail address that will help streamline filtering? Check out Google’s Official Gmail Blog:

Append a plus (“+”) sign and any combination of words or numbers after your email address. For example, if your name was, you could send mail to or

Adding this extra tag to your email address when you sign up makes filtering the messages even easier. Follow the directions as above to create a filter, but set it up so that any email addressed to your special filtered address (for example,  hikingfan+obama) gets automatically diverted, labeled, and/or forwarded in whatever way you choose—regardless of what email address it was sent from.

This simple service also lets you check when an organization has shared your information. If you give your email address to a political organization with “+donation” appended, whenever other groups write to that address, you’ll know how they got it.

Unfortunately, Yahoo! Mail does not enable autoforwarding of filtered emails. Instead, you can forward individual messages to Alternatively, you can set up a filter to put similar emails (such as campaign emails) into a single folder to make it easier to identify the emails you would like to send us. You can then send the entire folder to us as a zip file in a single email.

To set up a filter:

  1. Mouse over the SettingsSmall gear iconmenu icon | select Settings.
  2. Click Filters. Your Filters and their settings appear.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Enter a Filter Name.
  5. Enter the filter criteria:
    1. Sender – The person who sent the email. This is usually the easiest option to choose. Enter the email address(es) from which you receive campaign emails.
    2. Recipient – Your email address.
    3. Subject – Text held within the subject field of an email.
    4. Email body – Text held within the body of an email.
  6. Select a folder to deliver the affected emails in. You can also select New Folder to create a new one.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Click Save again to return to your emails.

At the conclusion of the collection period, to send this folder of emails to the Project DATA team:

  1. Right-click on the folder you want to compress and select Send To.
  2. Click Compressed (zipped) Folder.
  3. Click OK when prompted.
  4. Once the folder has been compressed, a ZIP file is created (depending on the application that you use to compress the folder).
  5. After a ZIP file is created, you can attach the file to an email, then send it to

Before setting up a forward for messages, you will have to add as a contact in Outlook, and also add the addresses from which you regularly receive campaign messages. To add these addresses:

  1. Open Outlook
  2. Click on the tile icon in the top left and choose ‘People’
  3. Select ‘New’ from the top menu
  4. Enter in the email box. You may leave other boxes empty, but if you wish to complete the Name fields, ‘Project DATA’ may help you remember us. Then click Save.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 entering the email address from where you receive campaign messages

Now you can set up an automatic forward. To do so.

  1. Return to mail, by clicking on the tile icon and choosing Mail
  2. In the top right of the window, click on the cog icon which should show a drop down menu. From that menu choose Options.
  3. Under Mail, choose “inbox and sweep rules”
  4. Click on “+” to add a new rule. Choose a name to remember the rule, then choose “it was sent or received > “Received from…”
  5. Choose the contact you created earlier from whom you get the campaign emails by clicking “+”. Then click Save.
  6. Under “Do all of the following”, choose, “Forward, redirect, or send > Forward the message to…”
  7. Choose the name you used for the email address by clicking “+”. Then click Save.
  8. Click “OK” to save the rule