iCloud email non-deliveries due to Apple’s overzealous spam filtering

“Apple is apparently performing some content-based iCloud e-mail filtering, resulting in e-mails that never arrive to their intended destination,” Casey Johnston reports for Ars Technica. “As detailed by Macworld, e-mails that included a particular phrase, even in a zipped PDF file, were prevented from getting to the intended recipient. This was regardless of whether the message was from a known sender, indicating that Apple is placing a pretty judging eye on what passes through its servers.”

“Apple acknowledged the existence of the filter, telling Ars (and Macworld), ‘Occasionally, automated spam filters may incorrectly block legitimate email. If the customer feels that a legitimate message is blocked, we encourage customers to report it to AppleCare,'” Johnston reports. “But, as Macworld points out, the problem is precisely that these e-mails are blinked out of existence the second they’re sent. Customers have no way of knowing what they’re not receiving unless the sender manages to follow up via another medium, or with more e-mails that don’t contain trigger phrases.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s Apple’s free service and they can do what they want, but this type of stupidity is going to lose them users, not gain them.

Perhaps that’s for the best, since Apple still can’t manage to keep their servers online with the type reliability users should expect. Even failing BlackBerry does a better job.

Users experienced a problem with multiple iCloud services.

Hey, Apple, by the way, you’re no longer throwing the hammer, you’ve become the guy on the screen.

Wake up before it’s too late, Tim.

1984 Apple’s Macintosh Commercial from Vitaly Kalenik on Vimeo.

To be perfectly clear: The problem is not that Apple is spam filtering, the problem is that Apple is never delivering the emails to our Junk boxes for users’ inspection. Spam filters are not perfect. We find perfectly legitimate email in our Junk boxes with regularity. Messages have to be delivered in order for users to have confidence in the service.

34 Comments

  1. This is such an non-story. The phrase in question was “barely legal teens”. I mean really? Hey, I know a guy who failed to cash in on 40 millions dollars from a retired widow of a Nigerian general because Apple blocked her email just because it contained the phrase “barely legal teens”. Get over it everybody, spam filters are not perfect, I believe Apple has already corrected this one. Nothing evil going on here. Let’s all move on and breathe a sigh of relief that our inboxes are not flooded with hundreds of worthless emails rather than crying “big brother” over a silly little glitch that affected maybe 2 users. You can always use Google’s mail where they read all your email to profile you, but at least you get it all, you think.

    1. As MacDailyNews stated so well above:

      The problem is not that Apple is spam filtering, the problem is that Apple is never delivering the emails to our Junk boxes for users’ inspection. Spam filters are not perfect. We find perfectly legitimate email in our Junk boxes with regularity. Messages have to be delivered in order for users to have confidence in the service.

      What part(s) of that didn’t you understand?

      1. Might as well not bother filtering if you are going to deliver the messages anyway. If all you are doing is tagging, the users experience will vary from account to account since they need to train their individual filter.

        Better to adopt strict rules and block delivery of spam. This delivers a more consistent experience and keeps the servers free of space wasting, resource depleting spam.

        1. …so you advocate that Apple knows better than you what mail you should read?

          Interesting.

          What has Apple done to earn this trust?

          Apple should indeed offer tagging and filtering services, but don’t you think that the user should know about it and have sufficient controls to manage it to their specific situation?

    2. Been in the FREE world long? Your rational is limited to the extreme. Reasoning can not be done taking one certain situation in mind, but rather has to be done looking at the broader perspective….

    3. iCloud’s spam filter probably would have blocked a message with the same content as your comment. You used the phrase ‘barely legal teens’ twice, and a spam filter is unlikely to decipher the context that makes that makes your message innocent.

  2. I’m a bit confused as I don’t us iCloud.

    “e-mails are blinked out of existence”

    Does that mean there is no “sent” items box if you send an email with a copy?
    Does that mean there is no “return receipt” feature that you can select to be fully notified that your email has been received?

    Just curious.

    Oh and this will drive the stock price down.

    1. I think your’e right to be confused. The story wasn’t edited by anyone who understands how email flows. If the story is to be believed this only affected emails originating from outside of Apple’s domains when it crossed over to Apple on the way to users of iCloud. Therefore the mail could NOT “blink out of existence the instant it was sent” because Apple wasn’t the first mail service to receive the email. I would have expected better from Ars Technica.

      1. Thanks Jim, I was getting the idea that either the article was either going right over my head or it was poorly written. Now I’m leaning for the latter.

  3. I think this is an over-reaction, MDN needs to get some perspective.. They seem to think that no other provider has issues, the problem is, you just don’t hear about them or as much when they do, probably even routinely, but because its Apple, the bar has to be so high, no one can reach it… and to compare it to Blackberry… what a joke…

    HEY MDN, get real…

  4. I use Apple’s mail for my business and have appreciated the filtering because I would have 500 porn related emails instead 200 deposited in my junk mail box… Which I routinely scan to make sure there are no errors…. So far perfect after so many years I can’t remember.

  5. Spam is a problem. Unsolicited mail is a problem. Mail with attachments, especially PDFs, is a problem, but, yes, _mark_ them as spam and divert them to a spam folder, don’t delete them unseen. A friend and I tested this yesterday, luckily before iCloud went down entirely, and, yeah, his email vanished into the ether. Nice, and he’s in my contacts and everything.

  6. What kind of emails do you send and receive if spam blockers catch language as described? How about using respectful language in all your communication? We don’t have to create a world of filth and degradation. I applaud Apple for taking a stand against pornography and filth.

    1. damnedable entitlement thinking.

      I’m far from guilt free but, what 3l3c7ro said!! Amen.

      P.S. Hey Apple! You better not be blocking any walware/viri that I can provide all the Windoze sufferers.

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