Anna Mann ’16 did not know if she had made it to the next interview round, even though the company had emailed her with an invitation to an upcoming event. The message had been lost in her spam folder.
“[The company] was really understanding since they were experiencing similar things with all the Yale students,” she said. “So they called me and said I needed to start checking my spam folder.”
Mann is not alone. Since the University began automatically applying an extra layer of protection to all incoming emails in December, students have begun to notice that a wide range of “safe” emails — including messages from corporate accounts, Google alerts and even LinkedIn notifications — have been relegated to the spam folder. Though the problem appears to have impacted only some students, the consequences for others has been real and often frustrating.
Zach Austin ’17, public affairs officer at the Yale Student Investment Group, said that over the past semester, important emails sent to the group from individuals in the corporate world started to appear in his spam folder. One message, he recalled, that was part of a communication thread to secure a speaker for the group’s alumni banquet was also discovered to be in his spam folder days after it was sent.
“This was the moment we realized this was a problem, and that we needed to do something about it,” he said.
As a result, Austin said he has adjusted his email habits to be particularly wary of how email is sorted.
Sergio Nazaire ’18 said he had been experiencing issues with certain social media account notifications, including LinkedIn, which were now being marked as spam even though they had not been separated from his inbox last semester. He said he had to change his email settings to trust the sender.
Still, the gains from this new layer of protection may ultimately outweigh the personal difficulties faced by students. According to the December email sent to all students, faculty and staff from Yale ITS, the improved security on Yale’s network will help guard against malware and phishing attempts.
“The new protection assures that URLs embedded in emails are safe to use,” Associate Director of Strategic Communications for ITS Susan West wrote in a Jan. 12 email, when the new layer was first applied. “We would be very interested to hear any issues with the new technology that are impacting people.”
ITS could not be reached for comment on how this new layer of security may be impacting the precision of the spam filter.
Brita Belli, communications officer for the Office of Cooperative Research and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, said the YEI had issues with emails being sent to spam by the University when it was using Hubspot, an inbound marketing and sales platform. However, the problem was resolved when it switched to University Messaging System.
“At the time, we asked Yale ITS to ‘whitelist’ certain IP addresses provided by Hubspot, but there were still lots of people, even in our own offices, not receiving our newsletters and updates when we ran trials,” Belli wrote in an email. “[University Messaging] is not as robust a service, overall, but the emails reach their recipients — many of whom, of course, are at Yale.”
Still, most students interviewed said they rarely check their spam folder or have not been seriously impacted.
Lindsey Hiebert ’15 said that though she had some problems with email going to spam unnecessarily, they are usually not too important.
“Only one of the 88 messages [in my spam folder] is relatively important — the rest are random studies that I signed up for, but none are important,” Matt Ribeiro ’15 said.