A new feature from Google for Google Voice takes the power of the "Report Spam" button and multiplies it exponentially. Google is applying the collected data from thousands of Google Voice users to automatically identify telemarketers and other unwanted calls and send them directly into the spam folder.
Do you remember the orange juice marketing campaign slogan "It's not just for breakfast anymore."? Let's borrow that and paraphrase: "Spam, it's not just for email anymore." People have been plagued with unwanted telemarketing calls since Alexander Graham Bell, but voice over IP (VoIP), and automated dialers with computer voice messages make it that much easier to call anyone and everyone with little or no effort.
Google Voice already had a feature to report calls as spam and block future calls from that number, but it is a reactive system that requires effort and maintenance from the user. You still have to receive the call in the first place so you can mark it as spam, and hopefully not receive it again.
The new Global Spam Filtering feature takes it to the next level. Google gathers information from all of the calls marked as spam by individuals, puts it all in a database, and then uses the information to automatically detect and prevent those calls from coming to you. The feature works for incoming calls, text messages, and voicemails coming from numbers identified as spam.
A post on the Google Voice Blog explains, "You can enable this feature on the Calls tab of Google Voice settings by checking the box next to Global Spam filtering." It also clarifies that if a valid number is accidentally marked or identified as spam, you can save it from spam purgatory by selecting the message and clicking the "Not Spam" button in your spam folder.
The system relies in large part on the collective input from other Google Voice users. Like the prevailing approach to fighting malware, someone has to get the unwanted call in the first place and identify it as spam so the rest of the Google Voice users can benefit from that input. Make sure you also do your part and take the time to click the "Report Spam" button and contribute to the cause.
Businesses rely on email spam filters to cut through the noise and keep users productive. Some spam still slips through, but if average users had to manually review and filter all of the junk that is being sifted out by spam filters either at the email server level, or in the email client software, they would never get any work done.
The new feature for Google Voice takes that same productivity boost, and applies it to unwanted and unnecessary voice communication.