Damn That Spam!


Excuse my French, but I have just about had it with the spam I get on my Netcom e-mail account.

Consider the following real life example:

>Date: Fri, 2 Jan 98 07:00 EST >From: kiicuobiu31@path.or.jp >To: kiicuobiu31@path.or.jp >Subject: XXX ADULT SEX!!!

>The LARGEST selection of Hot Beautiful XXX Live Girls >from the U.S.A. & Europe!!!

>*LIVE GIRL SEX SHOWS!!! >* 4 FREE Live Video Feeds & Chatrooms!!! >*FREE Erotic Stories!! >*Free Pictures of XXX Porn Stars!! >*Confessions!!! >*Free Pictures of Teens & Men!!! >And Lots More to do for FREE!!!

>*REAL LIVE SEX!!! MUST SEE TO BELIEVE THIS SHOW!! >Never seen before on the internet! >You must be 21 or older. >http://www.rrla.com

>If you take offense to this e-mail & wish to be taken off our list, >simply e-mail us at: mwa234@hot mail.com

Geez. All I can say is that I'm glad my two-year-old son isn't old enough to use e-mail yet. Still, at least I only got one copy of this thing. Last November, another sex site offer popped into my mailbox over 300 times in 36 hours.

When I get junk snail mail, I throw it directly into the recycling bin -- and anyway, the post office does not usually deliver pornographic ads. Telemarketers I stop with a pert, "Please remove me from your list." There is a law against junk faxes. But there seems no easy way to stop the flow of offensive, and often pornographic, spam into my private mailbox, where it insinuates itself between important messages from my family and work. I estimate about 40 percent of the e-mail I receive on my Netcom account is spam. It invades my inbox like kudzu, that inexpungable vine that infests the Southeastern United States. Spam doesn't feel like advertisement--it feels like harassment.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against doing business on the Internet. For example, I enjoy receiving the weekly, electronic Land's End Overstock Newsletter that I asked to have sent to me. Their e-mail tells me what my favorite shopping site has on sale at their Web outlet store [http://www.lands end.com]. Land's End offers me commercial information that I have requested and that I can use. Contrast this with the spammy trash that congests my mailbox every day.

What Is Spam, Exactly?

Spam is any electronic message mass-posted on the Internet that forces itself on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. There are two kinds of spam: Usenet news spam and e-mail spam. Usenet spam overwhelms newsgroups with irrelevant posts, usually in the form of advertising. Dennis McClain-Furmansky, spokesman of "S.P.U.T.U.M." [http://www.sputum. com], an anti-Usenet-spam group, estimates that, today, at least half of the postings to Usenet newsgroups come from off-topic mass-postings. That, according to Matthew Broersma of ZDNet, is how "spam" got its name: "Usenet users coined the term from a sketch by the British comedy troupe Monty Python, in which a crowd of Vikings stands in the corner of a restaurant chanting, `Spam, spam, spam,' so loud that no one can hear what anyone else is saying." The newsgroup system is now so rotten with spam that it has become effectively unusable for many.

Not content with ruining Usenet, spammers began to cull addresses from Web pages and newsgroups. They also bought or stole Internet mailing lists from ISPs. This allowed spammers to target individual users with direct mail messages. The technical term for this kind of spam is "Unsolicited Commercial E-mail," or "UCE." Although spam has disabled Usenet, at least newsgroup users can skip posts they don't want to read. UCE, on the other hand, requires that users take some action, even just to delete offensive messages.

Why Spam leaves Such a Bod Taste in Our Mouths

Spammers claim free speech protection for their activity. Well, it is free for them, but we pay for the storage space, the download space, and the time. …

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Damn That Spam!
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