My own small encounter with the evil that is Zynga

By | December 24, 2014

Much has been written about the fact that Zynga is evil. From my own experience, I’d like to add massively incompetent and law-breaking to the list of adjectives that accurately describe them.

A number of days ago, I decided to give Words With Friends, a Scrabble™-like game, on my smart-phone. I was bored, and I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time to realize that it’s a Zynga game. Though I admit that even if I’d noticed, meh, I was bored, maybe I would have tried it out anyway.

When I started playing the game, I learned first-hand about Zynga’s legendary business model. Their app makes you view a full-screen ad after every single turn. There’s no way to turn it off. Some of the ads make you watch them for quite a while before you’re allowed to close them (I assume Zynga makes more money from these!). Lots of smart-phone apps, games and otherwise, make their money from ads, but Zynga’s approach is particularly egregious and annoying. Within a few days I was fed up with it, so I uninstalled the app.

Alas, the damage was already done. I had logged into Zynga via Facebook, so they now had the email address associated with my Facebook account, and they began to use it to send me spam.*

I clicked the “Unsubscribe here” link in the first email I received. It didn’t work. To be clear, what I mean by “I didn’t work” is not that it said it unsubscribed me and I continued to receive spam anyway, but rather that the web application backed by that link didn’t work. Instead of seeing a page where I could unsubscribe, I saw this (click for full-size image):

Hold tight! We are checking on your email settings.

This spinner + “Hold tight!” message persisted forever, or at least for the very long time I waited. I tried it in two three different browsers. I even tried it in an incognito window. All of them had the same problem.

This isn’t a transient problem. It is still broken as I write this, more than 48 hours after I first tried to use it. That is to say, important functionality on their web site has been broken for who knows how long, at least two days, and either they are blissfully unaware that it’s not working, or they don’t care enough to fix it. That’s where law-breaking comes into the picture: the CAN-SPAM Act requires companies to provide a working unsubscribe mechanism in every bulk email message. Failure to do so is, quite literally, illegal.

“OK, Jon, take a deep breath and calm down. So they signed you up for an email list without your consent. So the unsubscribe link in their email isn’t working. These really aren’t a big deal in the greater scheme of things. Can’t you just contact their customer support department and ask them to unsubscribe you?” Oh, if only it were that easy. Here’s my attempt to do just that:

Subject: spam, can’t unsubscribe

I am trying to unsubscribe my linked Facebook email address [elided], from your spam.

When I click on the unsubscribe link in your spam, I get a page with a spinner that says, “Hold tight! We are checking on your email settings.” The spinner and message never goes away. I have tried this in two different browsers — Firefox and Chrome — on Linux, with the same results.

I have been trying this since last night, with the same results.

The fact that you do not have a working unsubscribe link in your spam puts you in violation of the CAN-SPAM act.

Please fix this.


You may unsubscribe from all Zynga email or manage your email preferences at anytime by visiting You may be required to login to Facebook or Facebook Connect to access the preference management page(s). Please note that following an unsubscribe we may still send you administrative emails regarding Zynga games, including, for example, administrative confirmations, and notices of updates to our Policies if we choose to provide such notices to you in this manner.


Oh, look, you didn’t actually read my email. Thanks so much for wasting my time with a template response that doesn’t actually address my problem. That’s just the kind of customer support I love.

As I said already, I *** AM *** visiting As I said already, it’s not working. As I said already, it displays a spinner and says “Hold tight! We are checking on your email settings.” but that message persists forever and is never replaced with the actual settings for me to change.

Here’s a picture:

[picture elided]


We will do our best to manually unsubscribe you from Zynga emails on our end and will update you once this has been completed.

[14 hours later]

We have no record of this email address in our database. You may unsubscribe from all Zynga email or manage your email preferences at anytime by visiting Please make sure that the emails you are receiving are in fact from Zynga Game Network. If you still believe this is an issue please forward me one of the emails you have received to this addresses and I will investigate further. 


Wow, you people are incompetent.

As I told you in the very first email address I sent you, on December 22, my Facebook email address which I am trying to unsubscribe is [elided]. You will not find any record of [elided] in your database because that is not the email address of the Facebook account linked to my Zynga account.

Furthermore, as I have also already told you — twice now — ACCOUNTS.ZYNGA.COM DOES NOT WORK. I even sent you a screenshot of the “Hold tight! We are checking on your email settings.” page with the spinner that I get, that never goes away, when I try to access

Furthermore, as I’ve already told you, it doesn’t work in two different browsers — Firefox and Chrome on Linux — and I’ll add that it also doesn’t work in Chrome on my Android 5.0.1 phone. Just to confirm that my cache and cookies weren’t the issue, I just tried it in an incognito window. It didn’t work there either.

I just received another spam message from your company. Moving forward, every spam message I receive from you will be reported as spam to all the appropriate authorities, which means, I hope, an increased likelihood that your company will be listed on spam blocklists and your emails will be filtered into people’s spam folders. And that’s what SHOULD happen, because you ARE spammers, because you started spamming me without my consent, your spam doesn’t have a working unsubscribe link in it, and your customer support people have proven to be completely incapable of either getting your broken unsubscribe link fixed or actually unsubscribing me from your spam.

I wholly regret ever installing a Zynga app on my phone. Rest assured there will never be a repeat of that mistake.


Pleas [sic] send us the request, using the email address that you are trying to unsubscribe. In order for us to validate the ownership of the account.

From: [elided]

OK, here is an email from [elided] to prove that I am the owner of that account.


And here is another email from to prove that asking me to send the request from my Zynga email address DOESN’T ACTUALLY PROVE THAT I AM THE OWNER OF THAT ACCOUNT. Anybody can forge email from any email address.

If you wanted to prove that I owned [elided] (which I do), you would have to send email to that address and ask me to respond.

The last message above was sent an hour ago. They haven’t yet responded. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually manage to unsubscribe me (I’m not holding my breath), but even if they do, frankly, the damage has already been done, and then some. What a bunch of morons.

*Some people argue that it’s not spam when a company you sign up with sends you bulk email, as long as they give you a way to unsubscribe. I disagree; if I don’t explicitly opt in to receiving bulk email, then they shouldn’t send it. However, I recognize this isn’t the norm nowadays, so I usually give companies one “free pass” to do this, as long as they provide a mechanism for unsubscribing that actually works. As noted above, Zynga doesn’t do that.

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2 thoughts on “My own small encounter with the evil that is Zynga

  1. Ashley

    I’m assuming this hasn’t been resolved? I’m going through the same “hold tight” thing right now.

    1. jik Post author

      Well, it’s “resolved” in the sense that they unsubscribed me — or at least I assume the did, since I haven’t received any spam from them lately — but it’s unresolved in the sense that is still broken.


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