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…and who says e-mail spam filtering works?

By October 28, 2008June 17th, 2017Blog

Let me begin by saying that you cannot make this stuff up! The following excerpt comes from MSNBC’s “The Red Tape Chronicles” :


AT&T reserves the right to change its terms of service by sending its Internet service customers an e-mail. Apparently, it also reserves the right to deposit those e-mails into its customers’ junk mail folders.

Last month, AT&T made some controversial changes to its Internet policies. Verbiage indicating that high-bandwidth users might experience some intentional slowdowns irritated some techies; another section that forces customers to use binding arbitration to resolve disputes annoyed consumer organizations; and an L.A. Times reporter bristled at the size of the full new agreement — 2,500 pages.

But Lance Mead, an AT&T Internet customer from Encino, Calif., almost missed the entire controversy. His notification of the new terms of service was sent via e-mail on Sept. 18, but AT&T’s own spam filters trapped the e-mail as spam and deposited it in his junk mail folder, he said. On a whim, he checked the folder and spotted the notice. He was furious.”

– Friday: 10 Oct 2008 (

Someone — anyone — please tell me how this is not proof positive the entire premise behind e-mail spam filtering is seriously flawed? I completely understand that mistakes happen. However, these “mistakes” are also considered “false positives.” In the “e-mail game” it is the false-positives that cost business real money. Is it really the end of the world if 5% to 10% of the e-mail received in your inbox is spam? Probably not. It is unnecessary, annoying, and unproductive to be forced to wade through spam, but missing an important e-mail thanks to the flawed concept of filters, a.k.a. guessing machines, should be considered absolutely unacceptable.