Gmail's already robust spam filtering features are nearing perfection with machine learning

Gmail's already robust spam filtering features are nearing perfection with machine learning
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning may still sound like vague concepts or insufficiently mature technologies to impact the average mobile device consumer in truly significant ways, but according to Google, one palpable development already made possible by something called TensorFlow is less spam than ever before in our Gmail inboxes.

Initially developed for internal Google use, the TensorFlow open-source machine learning (ML) framework was released under the Apache 2.0 license more than three years ago. Since then, “teams and researchers all over the world” have produced a whopping 71,000 forks of the public code and other open-source contributions, establishing a strong community that makes it easy to quickly apply “new research and ideas.”

One of the more mainstream ideas was to further improve Gmail’s already impressive spam protection by adapting quickly to ever-changing, increasingly sophisticated techniques of spreading spammy messages.

Before implementing TensorFlow-powered protection features, Google’s effectiveness in blocking spam, phishing, and malware attempts was pretty great, but now it’s essentially flawless.

We’re talking a 99.9 percent success rate and an additional 100 million spam messages blocked every day with the help of machine learning technology. Google’s latest ML applications are purportedly capable of identifying “patterns in large data sets that humans who create the rules might not catch.”

Instead of focusing on just a few of an email’s characteristics that could seem “spammy” at a first glance or coincidentally fit with general spam-eliminating guidelines and red flags, ML provides a more complete view of suspicious messages, looking at all available signals before making a final determination. Thus, false positives are becoming rarer and rarer and spam categories that used to be particularly tricky to detect, like emails with hidden embedded content, are slowly vanishing.

The whole process is obviously automatic and blazing fast, although it's also continuously refined to enhance its speed and efficiency, working towards the utopian goal of ridding all 1.5 billion Gmail users worldwide of spam for all eternity.

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8 Comments

1. antroid

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

Very impressive, I hope other companies would follow and implement it in their own mailboxes

2. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

So they are great at stopping spam, but s**tty apps in the Play store. not so much.

3. Panzer

Posts: 270; Member since: May 13, 2016

No thanks I don't need Google reading my emails very happy with Runbox. Never get spam, the emails I want always come through. I am sure though Google has found a way to data harvest that account through my Aquamail app.

5. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Pretty sure Runbox’ intelligent spam filter is reading your emails the same way Google's spam filter does. That is how spam filters work.

6. Panzer

Posts: 270; Member since: May 13, 2016

Pretty sure Runbox is not in the business of selling my information. And my account is encrypted.

7. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Google isn't in the business of selling your information either and Gmail is also encrypted. But like Runbox, it's client-to-server encryption. Also, Runbox isn't free. If you pay for Google (business account) your information isn't used for ads either. But Runbox is cheaper than Gmail.

4. lyndon420

Posts: 6382; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Gotta admit...my spam folder has been empty for awhile now - didn't really think about why until now. I was beginning to think that sending spam messages fell to the way side... didn't realize Gmail was cleaning everything up all this time. 2 thumbs up!!

8. Cicero

Posts: 1101; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

You have to admit that sometimes Google algorithms has failed. My business account domain, which have nothing to do with Google servers, was marked by Google only like spam sender. It is a business account from where I receive and reply with customers. And to deal on solving that situation with Google it is a mess and very difficult.

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