Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

Summary:If you use Gmail, Google now provides a tool that will attempt to auto-unsubscribe you from spam email lists!

*Insert unrelated picture of random funny old guy here; grab attention, make sale.

*Insert unrelated picture of random funny old guy here; grab attention, make sale.

In the world of Internet marketing (not just SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ), spam is the arch-nemesis of every legitimate agency/freelancer. Consequently, it's also the arch-nemesis of your everyday Internet browser, email checker, etc. Luckily, the search engine we all care about the most at the moment is tirelessly chipping away at those who seek to forgo ethics and cash in on every little insecurity they can (how good or bad you personally feel Google is doing on this front is another story altogether. :) ).

Somehow, this one flew under my radar until just a few minutes ago but I found it to be a really cool feature, thus worth the mention here on the blog. Basically, Google has created a tool that will attempt to auto-unsubscribe you from certain spam emails/email lists you mark as spam. Straight from the Gmail Auto-Unsubscribe page(last updated on 10/11/2010):

 

...we're providing you with an unsubscribe tool for some messages. You'll see the unsubscribe tool when you mark a message from particular types of mailing lists as spam. If the particular message is a misuse of a mailing list you like to receive, you can Report spam as usual. But if you never want to receive another message or newsletter from that list again, click Unsubscribe instead. We'll send a request to the sender that your email address be removed from the list. It's that simple!

Personally, I'm always weary of clicking "unsubscribe" from spam emails I receive, because I've found they typically link out to either unrelated links or they send you to a form that says you're opting-out when really, you're just signing up for even more spam without knowing it. So, where that's concerned, I'm curious as to how Google goes about auto-unsubscribing. Does the tool look for text and/or a link relating to unsubscribing, do they compare the email address to some kind of database where perhaps an unsubscribe email address/link has been found elsewhere if not provided in the email, or do they do something like reply straight to the email address with a pre-formatted unsubscribe message?

In the interest of keeping spammers from being able to detect such requests straight from Google -- thus ignoring them -- I'm sure the exact details will remain a part of the secret sauce. Either way, I enjoy seeing Google being proactive with spam in the ways they are. Sometimes, nothing gets me chuckling more than having a good run through my spam inbox, reading the ridiculous email subjects and sometimes full contents of emails, but if the day ever came where I never received a single spam email, I can't say I would be all that disappointed. That said, I do enjoy taking advantage of the spammers from time-to-time. ;)

Have you noticed or used this tool yet? If so, what has your experience been? Likewise, those of you using email providers other than Gmail, have you noticed any such tools implemented by your provider(s)? Let me know in the comments below if so!

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Cloud, Google

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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