Spam up or down

It’s something that applies to us all and which we all get fed up with – whether its nuisance phone calls or emails telling us we are a billionaire. In this article we look at spam email and how Google has tried to tackle it.

Back in the day when emailing was a fairly novel concept, inboxes were rife with spam and it seemed as though for every genuine email received, a spam one was also presented. Over the ‘noughties’ there have been attempts to address this problem, and by the start of this decade the big email providers (Hotmail and Google’s Gmail) revealed they had attempted to control this. It was reported that Hotmail and Gmail had removed all spam email expect 3% and 1% respectively. There is also the issue of what is known as ‘false positive’ emails – where genuine emails are deemed as spam, so this obviously taps into the ‘unsuccessful pot’ aswell.

Whilst significant progress has been made, it is still not enough. 3% or even 1% of emails is still high given the amount of messages sent per hour, or per day. One spam email is irritating and too much, so the quest remains to eradicate them altogether – if that’s at all possible?

Email providers are always looking for new ways to try and stay one step ahead of the spammers, and Google has recently introduced new technology and techniques to further help with the problem. According to them, this has led to the spam rate falling to 0.1% and the false positive rate to 0.05%. Part of the credit given for this is the fact that the new systems can adapt to changes and different styles, thus refining and homing in on the problem as they go along.

Now with the adoption of spam filters in Gmail and settings for these, it is quite possible to tailor your spam intake. That might sound a bit anti-purpose, but the option arises where you can indeed receive some or certain types of spam messages if you wish. What Google deems as spam might actually be a worthy email for us humans. Therefore this blurred area will always exist, and be a challenge for trying to get the spam rates to 0% or effective 0%.

It certainly does appear to be a ‘spam down’ trend, but as spammers get more sophisticated and technology developers further, so new ways will be needed to avoid a vicious cycle starting up again.

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