SPAM is a pesky problem that anyone with an email address has undoubtedly come into contact with. SPAM is a popular way of advertising because it’s so inexpensive to produce and has the potential to reach a huge audience. In 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion (1). Most people have a SPAM filter for their email but every once in a while a really sneaky advertisement sneaks by, pops into your inbox and reminds you that you really don’t know who has access to your personal information.
Most of the email advertisements are for pharmaceuticals, replica luxury goods and counterfeit software (article 6). Knowing that I don’t need a penis enlarger or a new watch, I simply mark those senders as SPAM and then unsubscribe myself. But not all messages are alike or so obviously a rip off. Many times SPAM messages target older audiences with made up scenarios such as helping a sick person by wire transferring $500. This turns the “innocence” of SPAM into something that the Federal government should seriously look into.
Because of the growing annoyance and complaints against SPAM several measures have been put in place. SPAM emails now have to offer opt-out or unsubscribing methods. Though this make take up to 10 days to process, it’s still better than nothing. Another relatively new internet safeguard is something called CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA is usually a combination of letters and numbers that a person must type, when using certain aspects of the internet, to verify that they in fact are human and not a computer. Stores, blogs and email providers have used this method to help protect users from getting SPAM as well as protect themselves as a company from wasting time on false email subscriptions or store orders.
While certain programs are now being implemented to alleviate the SPAM problem, there’s still a long way to go. And while we think that SPAM is limited to our inbox look out, pop ups and social network intrusions are on the horizon.