Apparently Verizon Didn't Learn The Cost Of Overly Aggressive Spam Filters

from the short-term-memory-loss dept

It really was just three weeks ago that the news came out that Verizon agreed to settle a class action suit brought against the company for being too aggressive in blocking spam. Apparently, what the lawyers agreed to hasn’t filtered back to those in charge of handling the spam filters (perhaps it was caught in their own spam filter), as the company is now being accused of turning on (oh yes, once again) an overly aggressive spam filter leading to many problems for users not getting important, legitimate, emails. It’s great that Verizon wants to curb spam for its users — but being overly aggressive without any way to opt-out or check the filter is clearly problematic for people who expect to be able to get all of their legitimate emails. Update: Verizon is now claiming that this was simply a glitch with their spam filters — and it’s now been fixed. However, anyone from Yahoo, America Online, MSN, Google, Roadrunner and a few other ISPs who tried to email someone with a email address over the past few days might want to try to resend that message.

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Comments on “Apparently Verizon Didn't Learn The Cost Of Overly Aggressive Spam Filters”

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Christopher Shaw says:

Spam filters...

This Verizon situation does not surprise me in the least. For several years now, I have noticed that everyone from ISPs to anti virus software companies to application vendors has wanted to filter spam for people. With who knows how many layers of spam filtering between a sender and the ultimate recipient each using different rules and different lists, it is inevitable that legitimate email gets killed.

I have clients based in Niagara Falls. At one point, after they sounded the alarm, I found out that none of their outgoing email was being delivered. It turned out that a spam filter was seeing “Niagara” in the signature as a misspelling of “Viagra” and classifying all their mail as spam. This is just one example of many I know (I have an Internet consulting firm).

I no longer consider email a reliable form of communication because of this very issue. It is fine for simple relatively unimportant correspondence back and forth, but for anything that is very important, an alternate method of message delivery should be used.

Unfortunate, really.

Professor Highbrow says:

Verizon is A Monster

This is just a matter of opinion, but I am shocked that Verizon is not in violation of some kind of anti-trust laws of some kind. Re-Unification of the Baby Bells, and At&T on the landline front; and the recent “Verizon Business” merger with MCI are of particular concern. It is also disturbing that such a large portion of the wireless market is also controlled under the same name.

As far as I am aware, all of these comapanies fall under the same corporate leadership, and of even more concern, their company stock is not available for public trading, either…

Don’t ask me how I know this, I could tell you or I’ll have to kill you.

In my opinion, the whole organization is suspect as a geographic monolopy on the landline portion, and a monopoly on the Telcom industry as a whole. I know of plenty of small ISPs wiped out by thef fact that they are forced to resell ADSL through the landline service alone.

This discourages progress and competition in the industry, as without publicly tradable stock and heavy dominiation under one large bureucratic Telcom Giant, small comanies die, along with the essential ideas of Captilistic competion and innovation.

Of cours that could be the subject of an entirely different article. I doubt we’ll be seeing any anti-trust action soon anyhow [politics].

In the end, the consumer bears the burden, along with the economy, and employees. It ’tis a Monster.

–Professor HighBrow

(not trying to be funny this time)

Jon says:

How to kill the medium of email

Overly aggressive spam filters seem to be the curse of modern business to business communication. If you can’t rely on emails getting through and not even being notified that you message was blocked, then there is no choice but to start to try to communicate some other way. I know spam is a problem, but surely getting all legitimate messages and a few spam messages is a lot better than the Verizon alternative. You always just hit Delete.

Anonymous Coward says:

Overly *stupid* spam filters, really

The problem is that Verizon personnel have not availabled themselves
of well-known best practices — carefully worked out over MANY years
by the Internet’s leading practicioners of anti-spam techniques. Oh, not
that those methods are perfect — nothing is — but they’re awfully darn
good, heavily documented, freely available, and easily implemented.

Verizon refuses to use them.

Verizon also, by the way, refuses to lift
a finger to do anything about the unceasing torrent of spam from their
own network — they rank (roughly) 5th in the world in terms of spam
volume as a result of their own incompetence.

If you’re a Verizon customer, I recommend arranging to receive and
send your mail from a responsible third party, as Verizon is utterly

Professor Highbrow says:

Re: Overly *stupid* spam filters, really

The problem is that Verizon personnel have not availabled themselves of well-known best practices —

Agreed; However, anyone who has ever worked for Verizon knows that they have NO Control over the Big V’s policies. It is not they employees’ fault, it is the monolithic bureucracy that Verizon Telcomm has become, and those at the top that sit on their silly rich asses that are really to plame.



Howard (user link) says:

Don't use your ISP's email -- DOH!

I haven’t used my ISP’s email service in ages. For about $8/yr, I get my own domain, and for about $12/yr, I get a hosting service with mail accounts that I can control, and filter or not as I choose. And I can (and have) changed ISPs several times in the last 5 or so years, without having to change my email addresses. If you can’t afford $20/year to control your own email, you can sign up for a gmail, hotmail, yahoo, or some other freebie account. Of that latter bunch, I recommend gmail.

Dam says:

Re: Don't use your ISP's email -- DOH!

Howard, you posted the exact message I was about to post. Users should get away from ISPs for email anyway. Comcast email is about the worst I’ve ever seen. I used my Comcast address only for friends and relatives, and it’s now being pounded with 100+ SPAM messages each day. I can reject all except certain senders, but what’s the point of doing that?

I have several domains and use a service that cleans the junk but still lets me review it. Postini is the name of the service and they do a great job.

CDB of Bristow says:

Agree with 10 above

I agree you shouldn’t use any email that will filter your mail. All the free and domain email allow you to set your own filters. I have email with my homeowners association through Gatehouse Networks and they tell you they don’t filter anything and it is up to you. That is the best way to go. The ISP filters I set work great. When I download my mail the Oulook filters work great also and I can set them as I choose. My ISP also does not block attachments either which eliminates some problems I have had with the change to Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express recently.

Gimme a Break! says:

Babies, I tell you!

What a bunch of whiny babies! If you didn’t have a spam filter, you wouldn’t even be able to THINK of using your e-mail accounts. The problem is NOT the remedy, the problem is the sickness – that being SPAM. The system I have in place utiltizes 3 products and a little tweaking from time to time. ORF (Open Relay Filter) and GFI Mail Security/Essentials. Bottom line – At best, Spam filtered E-Mail it perfect – at worst, Spam filtered E-Mail is much more useful than it’s Non-Filtered cousin.

lar3ry says:

Filtering is OK but...

Why not do what a SPAM filter is SUPPOSED to do???

  • Determine if a message is probably SPAM
  • Mark that probable SPAM as such (insert “SPAM:” into the subject line, put it into a SPAM folder, etc.)
  • Allow the user to deal with the stuff you’ve helpfully marked in their own way.

Without doing this, the filtering becomes censorship, and hints that Verizon (or any other ISP) is making decisions about what you should and should not see. This is not a good situation, and people should agressively resist any attempt on having an ISP censor what they read or write.

Faz says:

I agree with so many of you here

A) Use gmail. they have good spam protection

Also as a user we have responsibilities. Have an email address which you use for ‘random stuff’.

Example: When i sign up for web sites such as e-greetings and others, which i know will sell my address i use a specific account.

I then have another address (gmail ofcourse) which i tell my friends and family to send emails on, generated only by them and not via a website.

This i believe also helps reduce a lot of spam, as i am sure we all already knew

Jon says:


I work as the network admin for an ISP and we have installed several spam filters its not a glitch…. Because these things arent on the “blocking state” when you install them. They have to be configured and setup to that state so only one of two cases happened here..

A) They did it intentionally

B) the guy setting it up didnt know what he was doing…..

Local HSP says:

Verizon blocks their competitor's mail servers

I know for a fact that Verizon is intentionally blocking email originating from cable ISPs specifically because of cable’s new competition in the telephone business.

Landline phone technology and long distance charges will soon become obsolete terms similar to terms like 2-party line and switchboard. And the legacy phone monopolies are not going to go away quietly or ethically.

blankmeyer (user link) says:

Looks like the problem is back...

I tried sending a message to a colleague with a Verizon account yesterday morning from my Gmail account. It bounced and so did the resend. After an hour I tried again, and it went through. I figured the problem was resolved (temp. glitch or something). Tried sending another message yesterday afternoon and this morning and both bounced back. Others are reporting the same thing in the Google Gmail User Forum.

Mushpuppy says:

I am a Verizon FIOS user. I also use Digiportal’s Choicemail filter. Whenever I am away from home for more than a couple of days, when I return and first check my email, Choicemail’s challenge messages get my outgoing smtp service blocked because Verizon flags me as a spammer. This has happened twice–11/18 and 11/26 (today). I have called several times to Verizon. Each time the person who answers the phone refuses to forward me to a 2nd-tier person. Further, each time the person who answers says there is nothing that can be done about this.

FYI I am forced to use Verizon’s smtp server because I use FIOS and Verizon won’t let me use the smtp server of the company that provides my pop service.

This is an example of Verizon killing a great product for an idiotic reason. I’m trying to fight spam too! But according to Verizon I either must allow myself to be flooded with spam–or switch back to cable. It’s nuts!

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