ISPs Rejecting Millions of Legitimate Emails Daily

Dennis Faas's picture

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) restrict, redirect, or reject inbound emails to save users the time and hassle of having to deal with irrelevant 'junk' messages. However, new studies are showing that a number of ISPs are rejecting millions of legitimate emails every day.

The problem does not pertain to one-to-one personal messages. Rather, mass marketing emails and communications from sources like social networking sites (and even are not being delivered to users. The problem is that even though users have specifically requested to receive these emails, the messages are being rendered undeliverable because of something called "spam confusion."

According to Margaret Farmakis, senior director of response consulting for Return Path, "About one in five commercial permission-based emails are being blocked globally, and 15 percent in Europe are blocked because ISPs are treating them as spam." (Source:

The Choice Not to Opt Out Manually

Return Path noted that emails often become caught up in the spam trap because users are flagging messages as unsolicited bulk out of convenience, or perhaps boredom. Simply put, most users would rather mark a message as spam in their inbox, than to login to a website and opt out of a mailing list manually.

That said, if a company receives too many spam reports (I.E.: users flagging the same message as spam, even if it's not), then all emails from that company will be blocked indefinitely by Internet Service Providers.

Social Networks Top Bulk Block List

The worst hit companies are social networks. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of all emails coming from Friends Reunited were bulk blocked by ISPs last May.

Social networks fall prey to spam filters because of the way people sign up for the services. Most networks suggest that a user imports their email address books. This means that lots of emails are sent out to people who have not asked for them. The confusion takes off from there.

Still, sifting through each and every questionable email is an improbable task. As Farmakis reasoned, "Between 97 per cent and 98 per cent of all email is spam. ISPs have to weed through them and try and discover what they should deliver and when they should protect their end users from spam. It's like they're fishing and if a company's email looks too much like spam they get caught up in the net." (Source:

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