Preventing Anti-Spam False Positives

Spam has become one of the most troublesome aspects of using the Internet. Email software developers have worked hard to develop anti-spam options that will protect their users from viruses, phishing scams and unrequested advertisements. This helps protect email users from online scams. Making reliable anti-spam features, however, is a balancing act. Some times, developers go too far by making software that sends legitimate emails into the spam folder.

What is a False Positive?

In the world of anti-spam software, a false positive refers to any legitimate email that gets treated like spam. Anti-spam features often use certain keywords to determine whether an email contains unwanted information. Unfortunately, this can mean that the software accidentally sends your emails into the spam folder. When this happens, users lose important messages from their colleagues, families and friends. False positives, therefore, are a serious concern in anti-spam software development.

Preventing False Positives

Email software developers have used numerous methods to prevent false positives. Most online and stand-alone email subscription services now compare incoming messages to a list of contacts created by the user. If, for instance, the system flags an email for containing the word “Cialis,” then it will look at the address that sent the message and compare it to the list of contacts. If the message has been sent by a trusted source, then the software will allow it to enter the inbox. If it has been sent by an unknown source, then it will file the email in the spam box.

Today, false positives don’t happen very often because developers have tweaked their codes to account for typical email activity. Setting your anti-spam feature to its highest level, though, will increase the chance that legitimate messages get sent to the wrong folder. Keeping an updated list of contacts will help prevent this problem, but you should also take some time to glance through your spam emails to make sure none of them are important.

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