No matter what new technologies come out, e-mail is still one of the most common forms of communication, with more than 2 billion users. It's also a huge conduit for spam. Google is introducing a new "unsubscribe" feature in Gmail that will make the removal of spam easier for individual users.
While Google is making it easier to get rid of unwanted e-mail, Facebook this week is helping its users shed an unwanted e-mail address -- Facebook's own. After an annoying effort to force its e-mail service on users in 2012 by changing their listed addresses to assigned (username)@facebook addresses, the service never took off. While there are hundreds of millions of Facebook users who could have used Facebook e-mail, they chose not to, and the social network has decided to scrap the feature altogether.
Gmail Fights Spam
Getting rid of spam e-mails is not always an easy task and despite the inclusion of advanced spam filters, annoying e-mail marketing campaigns are still able to get through to an individual's inbox. Google has apparently realized this issue and while it cannot prevent every bit of spam from reaching a person's inbox, a new "unsubscribe" feature will make it much easier for people to eliminate spam themselves.
"One of the biggest problems with the Gmail spam filter is identifying unwanted mail, or soft spam," said Google software engineer Vijay Eranti, who heads Google's anti-spam efforts. Gmail and its competitors have been able to create relatively accurate spam filters, which has resulted in a higher percentage of unwanted e-mails going into spam folders. However, the filters are usually less accurate when dealing with aggressive marketing campaigns or other unwanted e-mails that are not outright malicious.
In many scenarios, Eranti said, a user will chose to receive e-mails from a company but then decide they no longer want to continue receiving those e-mails. This is where the unsubscribe feature will make things easier, allowing users to immediately stop receiving e-mails from a particular sender rather than searching for an unsubscribe option from the organization itself.
No More Facebook E-Mail
Facebook's decision to discontinue its e-mail service is expected to directly affect very few users, as it never took off. Most Facebook users have probably seen the e-mail address provided to them by the social network but the majority have never used the e-mail address for anything.
"We're making this change because most people haven't been using their Facebook e-mail address, and we can focus on improving our mobile messaging experience for everyone," said Facebook in a statement, an indirect reference to the social network's $19 billion acquisition last week of the popular WhatsApp Messenger.
The removal of Facebook e-mail will be completed in March. Anyone who had been using the e-mail service will automatically have their e-mails forwarded to the primary e-mail address on their Facebook account, the company said.
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