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

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!

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*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

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17 comments
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  • I am concerned as well.

    I will work fine for "soft" spam. That is email notifications from legitimate companies that perhaps we unknowingly signed up for. But for purely unsolicited hard spam (illegal): it just let's them know it is an active account. It is one of the fastest ways to get more spam.
    DevGuy_z
    • Exactly

      @DevGuy_z The best way to get MORE spam is to respond to an unsubscribe email. You are just verifying that the account is active.
      wackoae
    • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

      @DevGuy_z You apparently don't have a gmail account. I've had one since it was only available by invitation. Every spam mail I've reported or unsubscribed to has NEVER resulted in more spam. In fact, I almost NEVER get spam and have never had anyone tell me they sent something I didn't get - i.e. the spam filter trashed it. I don't know how Google does it and I don't care but on thing I know - their spam filter is the shiznit!

      The unsubscribe button also works pretty good, but click "report spam" and it's gone. (what few emails I do get - few and far between thankfully)
      blueskip
    • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

      @DevGuy_z - I am totally agree with blueskip gmail.com or you can say google have a really good feature of Unsubscribe button which keep your result away from spam.
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      Kinny87
  • Have you seen Unsubscribe.com?

    Stephen, you are right that the Google feature is awesome but it only works on a small percentage of emails. We built Unsubscribe.com to add a Unsubscribe button into Gmail that works on ALL marketing messages. Try it out, tell me what you think, feedback is welcome.
    JamieSiminoff
    • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

      @JamieSiminoff

      See post #1.
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    Getting rid of some is betting than none. Its a good start.
    rengek
    • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

      @rengek Not really. gmail span detection is outstanding. I hardly ever see it. To make use of this feature, I'd have to search through the Spam folder looking for candidates. It's easier to just ignore it.
      Badge3832
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    Could never find the unsubscribe option on any of my spam messages. Therefore, of no use. The only place I thought it might be is "More Actions" button??? Never there.
    gwforister@...
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    I think this is more of a Bacn-Fighting tool than a Spam-Fighting tool.
    Gritztastic
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    An even better option is to send the offending email to Knujon at nonregistered@coldrain.net . They, in turn, will notify (and harrass) the offending ISP without divulging your email address. And yes, Virginia, no matter what email service you use, if you send an unsubscribe with your email address, you will be confirming that your email address is indeed alive and well, and most likely your email address will be sold to other spammers.
    Since I've been using Knujon (free), my spams have dropped to nil. Every great once in a while I may get a spam, but it's squashed after sending to Knujon.
    You can visit the Knujon web site at http://www.knujon.com/
    Tinman57
  • Nothing Special...

    I believe they're using this mail header based feature:
    http://www.list-unsubscribe.com/
    More or less confirmed by this post (in 2006, so not sure what took so long for the feature to come through!):
    http://www.list-unsubscribe.com/2006/10/google_gmail_re.html
    It will not help to fight spam, but it will help legitimate email marketeers to remove users from their lists (any legitimate marketeer wants to do this, as legitimate companies and legitimate products suffer greatly if they abuse their (potential) customers information.
    Google's spam filtering is great, and I only see one or two spam emails a day now (in the spam box! None hit the inbox).
    There are a number of features that help legitimate email marketeers (and ISPs) differentiate themselves from spammers, these include SPF records, signing emails with DKIM (or similar), using IPs that they own, and most importantly of all, respecting their list members wishes!
    So, as I said, it won't affect real spammers, but it will help non-spammers, which in turn may let ESPs tighten up what they consider spam, so we'll see how it all goes!
    RandomCake
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    I've been fighting spam since the days of CompuServe and it's an endless battle but I finally settled on Mail Washer Pro mainly because I've lost valid emails from old friends and some welcome forwarded messages from friends who select things I like to read or view and understand Internet security. Many programs will make them as spam and some just "disappear" them. With MWP those I haven't blackballed yet show up pre-marked and you can even "bounce" it back to them. Since I use MS Outlook and not Web mail I just download the messages I want. I do use Gmail Pop mail though and they do a good job.
    jerry@...
  • Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    Perhaps Gmail just takes the originators email and adds it to a filter just for you, and after enough individuals have marked one emailer spam it goes into wide use, hence removing the spam even more widely.
    Mr Orez
  • RE: Auto-Unsubscribe: A Most Awesome Spam-Fighting Feature of Gmail

    I've been fighting spam since the days of CompuServe and it's an endless battle but I finally settled on Mail Washer Pro mainly because I've lost valid emails from old friends and some welcome forwarded messages from friends who select things I like to read or view and understand Internet security. Many programs will make them as spam and some just "disappear" them. With MWP those I haven't blackballed yet show up pre-marked and you can even "bounce" it back to them. Since I use MS Outlook and not Web mail I just download the messages I want. I do use Gmail Pop mail though and they do a good job.
    wctubee
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