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Google Calls On Gmail Users To Report Spam

The request comes as the Securities and Exchange Commission shuts down stock trading for companies believed to be involved in pump-and-dump e-mail scams.

The SEC on Thursday suspended stock trading for 35 companies touted in alleged spam scams. Applauding the move, Google is urging its users to strike their own blow against spammers.

In a blog post today, Google anti-spam engineer Brad Taylor calls upon Gmail users to use the service's "Report Spam" button "early and often."

"That isn't just there to get the spammy message into the spam folder," says Taylor. "It sends valuable information back to the spam team that helps us flag messages and senders so we can keep future messages out of your and millions of other inboxes."

The SEC estimates that some 100 million investment spam messages are sent every week. As Taylor observes, the consequences for those duped by these scams can be devastating.

"For us, spam fighting is a big part of what we do and has been since the start of Gmail," says Keith Coleman, Gmail product manager.

Google relies on internally developed anti-spam technology that takes advantage of the machine learning capabilities in Google search. It also makes use of public anti-spam standards such as DomainKeys and SPF. Coleman says that user input is the most important aspect of the Gmail anti-spam system.

Most of the details about how Google fights spam remain a closely guarded secret. The assumption is that if Google's methods become known, spammers will be able to adapt.

While Coleman couldn't elaborate on Google's approach to fighting spam or provide specific numbers to quantify the amount of spam the company receives, he did say that the volume of spam Google sees continues to rise.

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