I receive a fair amount of unsolicited marketing email (you probably do, too) that manages to evade Google Mail’s spam filters. I usually just scroll down, find the “unsubscribe” link and opt-out. One of the emails I received today had an interesting unsubscribe “protection”.
I’m accustomed to seeing a CAPTCHA mechanism to prevent automated email subscriptions (and logins, for that matter). It is an anti-spam protection and although CAPTCHA implementations can be problematic, it is a decent way of ensuring a human is interacting with you deliberately. That is a first step towards consent.
This particular implementation is odd because the CAPTCHA mechanism was presented to me when I clicked on the “unsubscribe” link in the email. Why would I need to prove I am a human to remove myself from a mailing list I didn’t ask to be included on (or even if I did request it, why require this verification if I decide to opt-out)?
To add to this peculiar configuration, I was presented with this screen after I typed in the number:
Again, pretty odd. After clicking on the link to unsubscribe and then going through the process of satisfying the CAPTCHA mechanism that I am a human, I am still prompted with a button offering me a chance to opt-in just in case I experience some sort of opt-out remorse?
This whole mechanism is pretty ironic considering I didn’t go through this process to receive the emails in the first place. It isn’t designed to prevent spam, it is designed to add friction to the process of unsubscribing and preventing automated means of unsubscribing from spam. That seems a bit backwards to me.