There was a story in the news recently about whether it’s a good idea to click the unsubscribe link in any unwanted commercial email or newsletters. While at first glance it may make perfect sense to do so, the story offered up the case of Steve Filipiak which gets you to think twice.
Filipiak got so sick of being spammed that he started clicking the unsubscribe links in every junk message he got. The result? More spam than ever. Spammers rarely honor those links. Instead, they’re there to let spammers know if they’ve got a live one or not. When they get an unsubscribe request, it tells them that address is active and that the person who owns it reads spam. To spammers and phishers, that’s gold.
But wait! According to CAN-SPAM regulations, all commercial emailers are required to include unsubscribe links or instructions in every message and honor all unsubscribe requests, right? Right, and legit companies do remove people who request it. The problem is spammers have taken that requirement and exploited it for their own gain. CAN-SPAM is meaningless to most hardcore spammers, especially those who don’t operate within the U.S. This could cause problems for legit companies if users start to believe that ALL unsubscribe links are bad. These problems could range from having your company website or Facebook page frequently pounded with “remove me!” demands, or complaints filed against you with your ISP or webhost.
The unsubscribe requirement of CAN-SPAM has been broken by spammers and a new solution is needed. Do you think the unsubscription requirement can be met in a way spammers can’t exploit it? If so, how? Leave a comment and share your ideas with us!