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Android Messages auto spam protection is coming, but there are privacy issues

Automatic spam protection within Android Messages is on the way. Unfortunately, it brings some privacy concerns with it.

Published onJanuary 3, 2019

Android Messages Google Pixel 2 XL AA 1
  • Android Messages will soon have an automatic spam protection feature.
  • The optional tool will send phone numbers to Google servers, which raises some privacy concerns.
  • Google is confident the auto spam feature is secure, but it will still give users the ability to opt out.

Right now, a new feature within Android Messages is rolling out which will help automatically sort out any spam messages you might receive. Although anything that cuts down spam is welcome, the feature raises a few privacy concerns.

Android Messages users have already been able to report spam messages with relative ease — just open the conversation, tap the menu icon, tap Details, and then tap Block & Report Spam. After doing so, the messages disappear and Google logs the information.

However, the new automatic spam feature will scan a conversation in an effort to determine whether or not it’s spam. If Google suspects a message as being spammy, it will issue you a notification asking if you want to block and report it. A quick tap on that notification will start that process.

How to use Android Messages using your PC

Google makes it clear that during this process your phone number and the messages you send are not scanned. However, if you report a message as being spam, Google will log that number and up to ten messages sent by the spammer (your responses, if any, are ignored).

Anything involving Google scanning and storing messages is bound to cause controversy. Google’s support page for this new automatic reporting feature tries to assuage privacy concerns by saying that “info about your messages is sent to Google without including the actual content or your phone number” and Google “does not store your phone number or the content of these messages.” Google also emphasizes that “the spammer won’t see or know about your report.”

Ultimately, if this is a concern for a user, they can always opt-out of the automatic spam protection feature. Just visit Advanced Settings and turn it off (once the feature fully rolls out).

What do you think? Will you turn this feature on, or would you rather report your messages manually? Let us know in the comments!

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