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How to block political spam emails
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Security & privacy

Political email might be coming to your inbox — How to block what your spam folder doesn’t catch

It’s sad to think that spam is unavoidable in our connected life. For every message you unsubscribe to, there’s another one right behind it. And that spam folder doesn’t always catch everything, does it?

Your phone is a prime target for spam messages, which can be harmless annoyances or dangerous scams. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back. Tap or click here for a neat trick to stop spam on your Android phone.

Election season is underway, which comes with the usual flood of political ads and commentary. Well, we have some bad news. You’re mistaken if you thought of your inbox filters as a safe haven from political spam. Your inbox will soon be flooded with the stuff. Can it be stopped?

Political spam is coming to your inbox

You expect social media to be saturated with political ads and commentary during election season. You know that billboards and TV won’t escape the scourge, either. You may even get some people knocking on your door requesting support for their candidate.

It’s about to get worse. According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Google wants to launch a pilot program allowing emails from “authorized candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership political action committees” to bypass your inbox’s spam detection.

Google says that the first of each of these emails will contain a notification (such as a banner) asking if you wish to continue receiving messages from that sender. As part of the pilot, all senders must include a “one-click unsubscribe” option in all messages. That’s nice, but what does it mean for you?

Well, everything sent by “qualified candidates” will breeze through Google’s spam filters by default.

RELATED: Block spam texts on your iPhone once and for all

Feeling the pressure

This move from Google follows a bill being pushed by U.S. senators that will prohibit all email providers from filtering political spam. Though you’ll be able to opt-out, this is never a guarantee that it will stop.

The bill will also require email providers to issue quarterly transparency reports showing how many times political emails were filtered as spam without input from the receivers.

Stop it before it starts

You can set up filters to stop the influx of spam messages from any source or subject. Here’s how to set up filters for your Gmail account:

  1. Open Gmail and click the Show search options icon inside the search bar.
  2. Enter an address, subject or word in the blank fields and select Create filter at the bottom of the search window.
  3. Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  4. Click Create filter.

Here are some ideas to try for your filters:

  • Candidate names and email addresses
  • Campaign names and email addresses
  • The district or race
  • Think more broadly and filter words such as ballot, vote, primaries, etc.
  • Most political emails are focused on donations, so use terms like donation goal and fundraising deadline to filter them out

You can also use a message you received to create a filter.

  1. Open Gmail and mark the checkbox next to the message you want. 
  2. Click the More icon and then click Filter messages like these.
  3. Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  4. Click Create filter.

Keep reading

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