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Spam: More than just a tin of meat

Manou Marzban on the email plague

Spam:. If you are a regular user of email, you will have come across the word ‘spam’. The first time I heard the word I was genuinely concerned. Spam to me is a tin of strange-tasting processed meat. I still have flashbacks from my schooldays, attempting to wash down nasty spam sandwiches with even more unpleasant orange squash. However, today, most people recognise spam as new manifestation of something nasty… Internet junkmail.

Get Penis extensions Now
I am Mr A. Mukaba - Finance Director of ..
send me money now I will make you very rich
Viagra -Makes your hair grow back too!
Urgent message for Mike
Best XXX on the Web

Spam is the online mass sending of unsolicited emails, often associated with commercial advertising of some sort – normally of a dubious nature, such as get-rich-quick schemes, pyramid marketing schemes, quasi-legal services, adult products etc. In other words, spam is the act of flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.

The spammer will go to any means to acquire Internet email lists, for example scanning Usenet postings, stealing mailing lists or electronically searching the web for addresses. All for the purpose of bombarding an unaware audience with unwanted email solicitation. Can you imagine someone knocking on your door every five minutes to hand you an advertising brochure or pamphlet? Even the most mild mannered of us will eventually feel violated and get cross. This is essentially what spam does, except it's your email account that is targeted and not your front door.

Why is spam bad? There are several reasons why the majority of Internet users are continually up in arms whenever the topic of spam is raised. Terence Boothe, 28, is a Web designer based in London. He has been using the Internet daily for four years. "My job requires me to be on the 'net everyday, and I use email to communicate with clients as well as business associates. Spam is simply a frustrating and time-consuming headache. This is particularly true when you have been the target of an aggressive spammer and have opened up your email account, three days in a row, to find 30 new spam messages each day. The junk mail slows your system and you then have to go through the delete process. It is a waste of time."

Terence has a very valid point, in recent surveys, Internet users claim wasted time and incurred cost as two of the main reasons they hope spam becomes outlawed. Terence continues "It may take only a few seconds or so to delete each unwanted email, but if a spammer sends out 3 million emails a day, easily done with just the touch of a button, that equates to over 8,000 wasted hours a day, not including the additional costs associated with paying local phone charges to stay online". Many people - anyone with measured phone service - read or receive their mail while the phone bill is running. Therefore spam costs them money. Additionally, it costs money for Internet Service Provider's (ISPs) and online services to transmit spam, and these costs are transmitted directly to subscribers. To the spammer, costs are minimal. Bang for buck - spam is effective for businesses looking for maximum exposure on the Internet with minimum costs. This is another reason why spam keeps rising its ugly head.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of spam is content. Not many of us like regular advertising, but at least we know there is a minimum standard of decency. This is not the case for spam, where children’s email accounts can easily be a target for indecent adverts. To the spammer it is just another email address. As more young people adopt the Internet as their preferred form of communications, the issue of standards and need for control of spam becomes essential.
There is one other type of spam. Cancellable Usenet spam is a single message sent to 40 or more Usenet newsgroups. Usenet users have found that any message posted to so many newsgroups is often not relevant to most or all of them. Usenet spam is aimed at "lurkers", people who read newsgroups but rarely or never post and give their address away. Usenet spam blocks users from taking advantage of the newsgroups by overwhelming them with a barrage of advertising or other irrelevant posts. Furthermore, Usenet spam subverts the ability of system administrators and owners to manage the topics they accept on their systems.

So what is being done about spam? There are a number of active organisations seeking to ban spam. One such organisation is the Forum for Responsible and Ethical Email (FREE). According to their mission statement, FREE was formed 'to stop the practice of sending unsolicited boilerplate broadcast messages through email'. In order to accomplish this mission, FREE engages in a three-pronged approach to combat spam. First, the organisation assists ISPs in gaining access to software, personnel and knowledge necessary for ridding their systems of unsolicited emailers. The second step in their strategy is to educate end users in the tracking of unsolicited emails as well as in public education and anti-spam activity and mobilisation procedures. The last step is of grassroots political efforts aimed at furthering the organization's goals; and the active lobbying of governmental bodies to create and pass laws which would end the practice of spam emailing through civil and/or criminal penalties.

Two UK companies that have taken spammers to court are London-based Internet company BiblioTech and global giants Virgin. BiblioTech is pursuing transatlantic purveyors of spam in US courts. BiblioTech is the provider of a free web-based email service called Postmaster ( and recently announced that it has rejected settlement overtures from spammer Sam Khuri who operates an Internet-based print supply company under the name "Benchmark Print Supply". Instead, Bibliotech plans to continue diligent prosecution of its lawsuit against Benchmark and a half dozen other defendants in a US District Court. BiblioTech MD Nabil Shabka explains "Our goal is not just a spam-free Postmaster email system. Instead, we seek a spam-free Internet. As long as spam-related settlements protect only the complaining ISP, rather than all ISP's, there will always be another target for the spammer."

So what if as a consumer, I want marketing and promotional solicitation coming into my email address? The answer is permission marketing. The objective of legitimate online advertisers is to change the way online advertising is acknowledged by consumers. If advertisers are able to make a distinction between spam and legitimate online direct mail, they will be able to use the Internet's advanced profiling and targeting capacity to deliver relevant and useful messages to accepting audiences. The model for this approach is built around consumers agreeing to learn more about a company and its products or services. In other words, consumers give 'permission' to have direct mail sent to them.

How is this accomplished? There are several scenarios. New users signing for an online service usually have to go through a registration process. When they do, they are presented with a field on the form that asks if they would like to receive information on products or service that may be of interest to them. Sometimes 'interest' lists are included, such as cooking, music, sports etc. If the consumer highlights these fields, he or she will then get direct advertising messages of immediate interest to them delivered to their email address. In essence, these are referred to as 'opt-in' databases. If the consumer decides not to receive any solicitation, then the service provider will block or attempt to block any direct email being sent to that person.

Permission marketing is based on the concepts of relationship building and customer service. Sweepstakes, games, contests and unique interactive campaigns are the basic tools for implementing such a strategy. Consumers are directed to enter contests and win prizes. In exchange, consumers agree to receive advertising messages from sponsors or specified companies. The core principle is to contest for people’s attention…to make consumers volunteer their attention…and create loyalty.

The thing to keep in mind is that if, as a consumer, you leave yourself unprotected on the Internet - you will become a victim of spam. However, if you take appropriate steps to protect yourself and volunteer your email address only to legitimate opt-in databases, you can take full advantage of Internet advertising, one-to-one direct marketing and targeting, online shopping and ecommerce, saving yourself time and money. Ultimately, being aware of spam is the first step toward having such a fruitful and positive experience on the world wide web.

© Manou Marzban September 2002

email: <>

Editor suggestion: Hotmail spamkiller just released. McFee have announced Spamkiller which will work with Hotmail and POP3 accounts. there is also Mailwasher but sadly doesn't work on Hotmail or Yahoo.

CAN"t Get Enough Spam? Please Spam these guys back!

DIRECT TELEPHONE : 234-1-7760387 fax, 234 1-7599435

or This one
Dear, I am contacting you with the greatest delight and personal respect. I am Prince Frank W. Tarawally, the first son of Chief.K S Tarawally Personal Assistant to the former minister of Mineral Resources of the Republic of Sierra-Leone who was recently murdered by the Forces Loyal to Corporal Foday Sankoh, due to his support to the incumbent elected President Tejan Kabbah to remain in the office as reported on the cable Network News (CNN) and (BBC) Few days before my father was assassinated,he confided in me and ordered me to go to his underground safe and moved out immediately with the deposit agreements and cash receipt he made with a Security Company in Lagos Nigeria, where he deposited two trunk boxes which contains cash sum of US$30,000,000 (Thirty million United States Dollars). I successfully smuggled out of the country to Lagos , Nigeria, with the help of some rebels loyal to My father and have gone to the Security Company with the deposit Documents to confirm the deposit myself. Unknown to the Security company my father declared the contents of the trunk box as AFRICAN ARTEFACTS belonging to his foreign partner, that the keys are with him/the foreigner in order to prevent them from knowing the real content. I am now seeking for your direct assistance to front you as the owner of the consignment and lift the fund out of this country to your base for onward profitable investment which necessitated my contacting you. We are to open a non residential Bank Account in Lagos Nigeria in your name through which the fund will be remited to your Bank Account abroad and your reward for this noble assistance is negotiable. Further detail will be made known to you on confirmation of your interest to assist me towards this project You will also confirm to me that know third party should hear about this transaction. Contact me through the email and let me have your telephone and fax numbers for easier communication. Expecting your immediate response. Yours sincerely. Prince Frank A W Tarawally Contact Tel: 234 1 4716808
Spam this bastard have you ever met a Prince called Frank!

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