There are emails from which you should certainly unsubscribe when you no longer want them. However there are emails that you absolutely should never unsubscribe from. I'll review the differences.
I know that this is confusing, but it’s important to realize that there are emails that you can and should unsubscribe from, and emails that you absolutely should never, ever “unsubscribe” from.
I’ll explain why that is, and what the relatively simple rules turn out to be.
Don’t unsubscribe from spam
What you are getting is most likely and simply spam. Spam is sent to random email addresses. You haven’t been “subscribed” at all. You’re just getting it like many people do: at random.
This is important: since you haven’t been subscribed, there’s nothing to unsubscribe from, even if there’s an “unsubscribe” link. Clicking on that unsubscribe link will not help. In fact, it’ll likely make matters worse.
You might be asking “if I’m not subscribed, then why is there an unsubscribe link?”.
Simple: spammers lie.
Like I said, spam is sent out at random and to email addresses that are both legitimate and not. The act of clicking that “unsubscribe” link actually confirms to the spammer that your email address is a real, valid email address with a real person reading it.
From the spammers perspective it allows them to say the equivalent of “we got us a live one!”
And once they know that the email address is legitimate, they’ll start sending you MORE, not less, spam.
Thus this rule of thumb: “unsubscribing” from spam will only get you more spam.
Instead, click on the “This is Spam” button in your email program or interface to both get the email out of your inbox and train that service as to what spam looks like. That helps the service automatically identify spam for you in the future, and is by far the safest, most effective approach to dealing with spam using tools you probably already have at your disposal.
Do unsubscribe from things you asked for
As a newsletter publisher myself, I do want to emphasize that when you’re ready to stop a legitimate mailing, a mailing that you subscribed to, you do want to use the unsubscribe link.
Do not click “this is spam” for legitimate email. When you click on “this is spam” for legitimate email that may actually cause other people – people who actually want it – to stop getting it.
The simple rules
So there are things that you should unsubscribe from, and there are things that you should never unsubscribe from.
The rules are actually fairly simple:
- If you subscribed to a newsletter, clicked “yes, send me more info” or have some kind of a business relationship with the entity sending you email such as having purchased something from them in the past, then it’s probably legitimate mail and you should use the unsubscribe link.
- If you’ve never heard of the sender and have no relationship with whatever is being promoted or discussed in the email then it’s likely spam and you should not use the unsubscribe link.
It’s unfortunate that we even have to think about these things, but the fact is spam continues to be a problem. Fortunately, a few moments of thought (“is this email legitimate?”) and the simple rules above should make it fairly clear on when it is, and is not, safe to unsubscribe.
For the spam, look into any of a number of anti-spam solutions and/or filters provided by your email program or ISP.
And never use the “This is Spam” button on email that you asked for.