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We're using a custom preference center based on a cloudpage. We want to remove or replace the default links in email footer to the default preference center and unsubscribe link.

If we remove the parts we get an error that says profile link must be added to email.

How to replace the default links with custom links?

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You need to log a support case so salesforce modifies the validation rules and the default profile and preference center isn't required anymore.

A workaround would be including it in a comment or a statement that never evaluates to true and therefore the link isn't added. How this code-snippet could look like (as Andrew mentioned, the approach using AMPscript and an if-statement works best):

%%[IF 1 == 0 THEN]%%
    %%profile_center_url%%
%%[ENDIF]%%

However you need to make sure the subscriber has the possibility to unsubscribe and you always include your custom link to be CAN-SPAM act compliant.

Further info on CAN-SPAM:

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You have two options:

  1. Contact Support to disable this
  2. Use this ampscript hack

    %%[ if 0 == 1 then ]%%%%profile_center_url%%%%[endif]%

It tricks the system can be used for mem_bus_address and other things usually required for the footer

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