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Microsoft 365

Block spam this holiday season with the new enhanced bulk mail experience in EOP

Chris Nguyen is a program manager and Shobhit Sahay is a technical product manager on the Exchange Online Protection team.

From time to time, you might have received the same, annoying newsletters or coupons over and over again. The rate of such spam increases significantly specially during the holiday season. Recently, we promised to evolve the Exchange Online Protection (EOP) to protect against tomorrow’s threat, and continuing on our promise, we are pleased to introduce the enhanced bulk email experience in EOP. With this new capability, we are introducing a simple, intuitive control in the Exchange Admin Center to allow you to easily block more of these “bulk” emails. For example, for Exchange Online, we were able to increase the percent of filtered emails based on these new bulk mail capabilities by another 16 percent in recent months.

enhanced bulk mail 1
Enhanced Bulk mail control with Bulk Complaint Level (BCL) can help reduce the amount of spam reaching your inbox significantly.

Bulk (or “gray”) email is email that falls somewhere in the middle of spectrum between junk email and good email—some users want it, others do not. Examples of bulk email include newsletters, social updates and promotions. Earlier this year, we significantly increased EOP’s bulk detection and assigned Bulk Complaint Level (BCL) ratings to email from bulk senders to indicate the likelihood it would generate a complaint. Bulk email senders vary in their email sending practices. A low BCL indicates the sender generally uses good sending practices and the email is not likely to generate a complaint while a high BCL indicates the opposite. This release uses these BCL ratings to enable you to quickly configure the level of bulk email filtering your organization needs.

enhanced bulk mail 2

BCL indicate how likely the email is to generate a complaint based on the sending practices of the bulk email sender.

How to enable enhanced bulk email

To access the feature, in the EAC, click protection>content filter and then select edit an existing content filter policy (pencil) or create a new one (plus). Under the spam and bulk email actions tab, enable Mark bulk email as spam and then set the spam threshold level.

enhanced bulk mail 3

Default view with the Bulk email filter enabled.

When this feature is enabled, email identified as bulk at or above the specified threshold will take the specified spam action. This threshold is based on the BCL of an email. For example, selecting 5 treats email with a BCL of 5 or higher to be treated as spam.

As part of enhancing the overall bulk experience, we are also significantly increasing the amount of bulk email marked as spam by default by marking as spam emails with a BCL of 7 or higher. Depending on your organization’s needs, you can raise or lower this threshold to make the filter more or less aggressive.

enhanced bulk mail 4

Specify the threshold to treat messages as spam. Emails with a BCL at or above the threshold are marked as spam.

Bulk email can be a real nuisance for users. We hope that this feature will help you better manage the amount of bulk email your organization receives and look forward to continually improving our anti-spam service to meet your needs.

—Shobhit Sahay (@shobhitsahay88) and Chris Nguyen 

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will this feature be available?

A. We are starting to rollout this feature now. If you would like to be an early adopter of this feature, reach out to us via your account team and we can enable it in your tenant.

Q. What can I do to receive mail, which is treated as spam due to this feature but I don’t want to raise the threshold?

A. Bulk email is highly subjective, and we know certain users may want to receive certain emails. There are several steps indicated here to ensure a message isn’t marked as spam. Read this article titled, How to help ensure that a message isn’t marked as spam for more information.

Q. What will happen to the Bulk Mail Advanced Spam filtering option?

A. This feature replaces this setting and this setting will no longer be available in the Exchange Admin Center.

Q. Can this feature be accessed using Powershell?

A. Yes, this feature can be configured using the MarkAsSpamBulkMail and BulkThreshold parameters in the HostedContentFilterPolicy cmdlet.

Q. Where can I find more information about bulk mail?

A. Here are some resources to learn more about bulk mail:

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