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Google today announced it is now using the same artificial intelligence developed for Google Search and Google Now to fight spam. This is on top of the machine learning the company already uses to train Gmail’s filters (every time you click the “Report spam” and “Not spam” buttons, you’re teaching Gmail what does and doesn’t matter).

Gmail’s spam filter now uses an artificial neural network to detect and block “the especially sneaky spam.” That means you should now be less likely to see messages in your inbox that are meant to pass for wanted email.

The spam filter is also now better at recognizing individual preferences. Not everyone likes the same repetitive emails, whether that’s daily jokes, weekly newsletters, monthly reminders, or just notifications from some random service, and Gmail needs to adjust accordingly.

Finally, Gmail’s spam filter can now root out email impersonation. New machine learning signals help the service figure out whether a message actually came from its sender, which at least in theory should reduce the effectiveness of phishing scams.


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At the same time, the company today launched Gmail Postmaster Tools, which let companies minimize how many of their important emails get put into Gmail’s spam folder. The goal is to reduce the number of times users have to go looking in their spam folder for that vital message.

Google says that less than 0.1 percent of email in the average Gmail inbox is spam. Meanwhile, the amount of wanted mail landing in the spam folder is even lower, at under 0.05 percent.

Still, Google wants to do better. As the Gmail team puts it, the goal is to give users “The mail you want, not the spam you don’t.” Of course, that’s a very fine line to dance on: You may not want to see the same company email that I do.

As such, instead of simply whitelisting emails from companies, Google is supporting the senders of wanted email, like monthly statements from banks and ticket receipts from airlines. Gmail Postmaster Tools lets “qualified high-volume senders” analyze their email, including data on delivery errors, spam reports, and reputation.

In this way, Google is letting companies diagnose any hiccups that might be inadvertently making Gmail route their emails to your spam folder. The company also offers best practices for bulk email senders, so if you send the same type of email hundreds, thousands, or even millions of times per day, you’ll want to check this out.

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