Cloaked Email and Craigslist: It’s Complicated

Craigslist’s newly implemented email relay service breaks proper delivery of Gliph Cloaked Email. This post explains what happened and how you can work around the issue.

What happened

Our team first debuted Cloaked Email on August 14th, 2012. We created the product in part due to our own frustration with how Craigslist handled email privacy. We performed a survey and found that we weren’t the only ones who felt this way.

Previously, when you created a Craigslist post, their system would protect your email address in the listing itself. However, if you replied to someone who had emailed you about the old stereo you were selling, it would reveal your email address.

Gliph Cloaked Email solved this problem by protecting your email address across both ways of the exchange. It also allowed you to do it directly from your own personal inbox.

Beginning in November, we noticed Craigslist began testing an “anonymized relay” aka “email-relay” that offered similar functionality to Cloaked Email. After some testing, we were able to prove that their new service did not interfere with Cloaked Email.

However, at some point this spring, without notice, Craigslist began blocking email sent using Gliph Cloaked Email addresses as it passed back through their relay service. Then the system moved from optional to required for all ad listings where email addresses are automatically included.

Today, what happens is when someone responds to your ad listed by a user using Gliph Cloaked Email, it works the first time, going through both the Craigslist Email Relay and through Cloaked Email to your real inbox, but when the Gliph user replies, Craigslist does not pass the email on to the other person.

We contacted Craigslist and asked if they had blocked Gliph Cloaked Email, so we could get validation of the change. Craigslist either never received our inquiry or has chosen not to reply to us.

For the record, we love Craigslist and think it is very important peer to peer marketplace. We’re humbled that Craigslist seemed to think email privacy Gliph demonstrated was important enough to implement their own system.

We hope whatever changes Craigslist made were not done to single out Cloaked Email users, but rather to protect and improve the experience for all Craigslist users. But it sure would have been nice if they had just communicated that.

So now what?

First, don’t let this get you down. You can still use Cloaked Email with Craigslist, you just have to do it a bit differently than before:

When you list an ad on Craigslist, you have the option of choosing “use craigslist mail relay” or “no replies to this email, please.” You must choose “no replies to this email, please.” Here’s a screenshot of what that looks like:

Then in the listing, you must give your cloaked email address directly in the ad. For example, you should say: “please contact me by email at”

Potential buyers will still be able to contact you, and your replies will still be delivered as expected and you’ll get basically the same experience as before.

We are also recommending that Craigslist users change their account email address back to their normal email address. That way if you forget to enter your cloaked email in the ad listing, you will still be able to communicate with potential buyers.

We realize that not all Cloaked Email users will like this new requirement for using Cloaked Email on Craigslist and we’re sorry for the inconvenience.

The good news is that Cloaked Email still works great on services like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, bulletin boards, and coupon sites across the internet. We know many people depend on Cloaked Email and are proud that it continues to protect privacy on the internet.