Google’s new spam rules ensures senders of 5,000+ daily emails include an unsubscribe button

In brief: Spam emails are one of those online annoyances that have been around for decades. Things have improved over the years, and now Google is making it more difficult for senders who bombard others with messages. The company said those who send more than 5,000 emails per day will need to offer Gmail users a one-click unsubscribe button.

Neil Kumaran, Group Product Manager for Gmail Security & Trust, writes that Gmail’s AI-powered defenses stop more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware from reaching inboxes and block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails every day.

However, the way the internet has evolved over the last 20 years has led to new threats that are more complex than ever. As such, new guidelines are being introduced in February 2024 for those who send more than 5,000 emails per day to Gmail users.

The most welcome change is likely to be the inclusion of a one-click unsubscribe link in the body of emails. Bulk senders will also be required to process the unsubscription requests in two days.

Another new guideline requires bulk senders to set up SPF/DKIM and DMARC email authentication for their domains to help protect against spoofing and phishing attacks.

Kumaran writes that as of last year, Google started requiring emails sent to a Gmail address to have some form of authentication. That led to the number of unauthenticated messages sent to users falling by 75%, helping declutter inboxes and block billions of malicious messages, but Kumaran says there is still more to do, starting with the new requirements for large senders.

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Finally, Google is mandating a spam rate threshold for bulk senders. This must be kept below 0.3%, as measured by Google’s Postmaster Tools. Furthermore, senders must not impersonate Gmail in their emails’ ‘From’ headers.

Google says it is working with Yahoo, which also provides an email service, so the latter can implement the same changes.

According to anti-virus maker Kaspersky Labs, almost half of all emails sent globally last year were spam, nearly 30% of which originated in Russia.