Google To Make It Easier To Quit Mailing Lists

John Lister's picture

Google is adding a 1-click link for Gmail users to stop unwanted marketing messages. But the system won't work in all cases, especially when it comes to dealing with the worst spam offenders.

The new service works along the same lines as the unsubscribe link which many legitimate websites use in their bulk email messages. More often than not, however, the unsubscribe link is often difficult to find. Typically, it's buried at the bottom of a lengthy email that the recipient didn't want to read in the first place.

Another problem is that the unsubscribe link isn't always a one-click setup. Instead, users may be asked to go through a confirmation process to unsubscribe, or complete a survey explaining why they no longer want to receive the messages - both of which can be extremely irritating.

Gmail Adds 1-click Unsubscribe Link

Google's solution is to add a new 1-click unsubscribe link to the top of email messages that it detects as being sent from a mailing list. It will retain the "Report spam" link when it believes an email message may be spam. (Source:

Clicking on the 1-click unsubscribe link (if available) will lead to Google sending an automated request to the mailing list operator to unsubscribe the person, which should normally be processed within three days of receiving such a request.

The technology for processing an unsubscribe in this manner has been in place for a number of years, but has not been widely adopted by email service providers. Currently, our website Infopackets utilizes the 1-click unsubscribe link technology and has been for some time.

That said, Google hasn't said if or how it will enforce these requests. In theory, if mailing list operators fail to implement the 1-click unsubscribe link into their emails (which is found in the email header itself), Google would likely place the message directly into the spam folder.

In practice, the link will only work with reputable websites willing to implement it.

Worst Spammers Will Most Likely Be Unaffected

Though this sounds like an excellent anti-spam measure, Google says it won't make the tool available for messages from people or businesses known to be serious spam offenders. (

In those cases, the feature would be counterproductive. Utilizing the 1-click unsubscribe in this case would simply confirm to the spammer that your email address is in fact valid (because you clicked the link), and thus they will likely send more spam your way.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think Google should do more to crack down on unsolicited spam and bulk emails? How many mailing lists are you currently subscribed to and how many do you actually read on a regular basis? Have you found it easier to unsubscribe to email mailing lists over the years?

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.3 (6 votes)


DavidFB's picture

At one time, spammers used unsubscribe links to confirm a real person, so the message got out that unsubscribe links were not safe. More recently, people would instead mark a message as spam even if it wasn't, to avoid clicking unsubscribe. Net result, mail providers dumping legitimate newsletters in spam and obliging us to add them to the address book etc.

This may help that issue as it addresses the historical problem. How well newsletter providers will deal with non-automated messages is another matter. But it may indeed encourage making unsubscribe easier or less variable.