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Spam and how to avoid it

The Internet is drowning in a sea of spam. Of course, we are not talking about a special kind of canned luncheon meat! The spam we are referring to is the unsolicited advertisements that clog up email inboxes around the world. If you use the Internet even occasionally, you will know how annoying and time consuming spam can be – when logging onto the Internet to quickly check your email becomes a time consuming process of sorting through offers of cheap drugs and hot stock tips.


An immigration law firm in Arizona is popularly described as sending the first intentional, mass commercial email firm in Arizona advertising their services over Usenet. This event is commonly referred to as the ‘Green Card spam’. Since then, the movement of spam over the Internet has exploded.


Spam makes our lives extremely inefficient. Instead of being able to quickly respond to emails and get on with other more important tasks, spam forces us to spend precious time trawling through our inbox to differentiate emails from friends and colleagues from badly worded emails trying to sell us Viagara at low, low prices. Indeed, some government groups have put the cost of spam to organizations in the United States at $10 billion a year! And this number is only growing. This number includes not just lost productivity, but the money spent to buy more hardware to deal with the influx of email messages, and software and staff assigned specifically to deal with spam.

While spam may not seem that bad for you, keep in mind that your your ISP mercifully blocks most of the spam that is sent your way before it gets a chance to make it into your inbox. It is clear now that spam accounts for the majority of Internet traffic. Studies have estimated that there are 55 billion spam emails sent every day worldwide – this accounts for 80 to 85 per cent of all income email!


If spam is so horrible, why is it so popular? You, after all, would never buy anything that was advertised in a spam email; surely nobody else would, either. However, the fact of the matter is that spam is so popular because it is profitable. Given the cost of sending spam, you can get a good return with a very low response rate. Consider, for example, the cost of sending out a direct mail campaign. You would have to pay to print off the material, and for postage – even if this ends up costing you less than a dollar per household, it will still represent a significant investment. However, each spam email only costs a fraction of a fraction of a cent. Because it is so cheap to send out, you can send out extremely high volumes of advertisements and only require a very small number of recipients to respond.


The most obvious way to stop spam is to never, ever respond to an unsolicited advertisement sent by email. Of course, since you probably would never do that already, taking this step is not going to change the world. In the absence of effective government regulation, your best bet is to intal effective email filters that attempt to block spam from ever arriving in your inbox.

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