Stupid spam. I tried to count the ways I hate you, but I ran out of numbers. Why must you invade every aspect of my life?
Well, let’s take a quick history lesson of spam first. Ever wonder where the word “spam” comes from? I did, so I looked it up. Apparently, there is no absolute understanding of the word’s origin as related to unsolicited email, but most people tend to believe it refers to a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit in which a couple go to a restaurant and the only thing on the menu is spam. The word “spam” is used to excess throughout the skit, until the couple (and the viewers) are ready to poke out their eyes, if only to make it stop.
I like this explanation, as it sums up my feelings toward spam rather succinctly.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. Spam filters have improved exponentially in recent years, so much so that (until recently) I rarely receive spams in my inbox. Well, at least in my Gmail. Yahoo!, on the other hand, doesn’t do as good a job, unless you consider the number of spams getting through to my inbox each day (3-6) in comparison to the number going into my spam filter each day (200+). I guess it’s not too bad, when examined from that angle.
However, I have begun to notice spam encroaching into previously sterile areas in recent weeks. At first I thought I was crazy, but I’ve been reinforced by a number of blog postings suggesting that spammers are getting more intelligent.
First, I noticed an increase in my Gmail about a month ago. The only reason I noticed this was because I never used to get any spam in this account, and suddenly I was seeing a few a week. Again, not a huge deal, especially since you only have to click two buttons to make it go away, but still a little unsettling. At first I thought that maybe I had signed up for something online that was causing the influx, even though I typically reserve registrations like that for my Yahoo! account. But then I was validated when Mashable reported that they were noticing a “leak” in the spam filters too.
Then there’s blog spam. Here at WordPress, the filters catch the vast majority of spam comments, but the sheer number caught (at least on my account) has gone up significantly since February. Mashable recently reported that WordPress thinks up to one-third of blogs posted on the site are actually “splogs,” or spam blogs.
THEN, this past weekend I began receiving notifications from Twitter of new followers on the site. As I am not a big user of the site and do not have a lot of friends using it, I was curious and a little confused by the notifications, although I did not link them to spammers until this morning when I read on Mashable that the Twitter problem is not just a coincidence, and there are users who are creating massive followers’ lists for no go reason. At least the “spam” aspect to this is minimal, since you would need to follow the spammer in order to have their messages appearing on your homepage. But still, this is annoying!
Finally, there is the impetus that caused me to write this post. Mashable is now reporting that spam has entered the most sacred realm of Google Calendars. How is this possible? Let me echo Stan’s post by asking, IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE? This insanity has got to stop!
Looking at the situation more broadly, it is obvious that spammers are becoming more persistent. The AFP reported at the end of2007 that virtually all email is now spam, with the number reaching 95% in 2007, up from 70% in 2006. Now that is quite a lot of junk emails about rich African businessmen who want to wire you money, penis enlargements to make her “hot all night”, magic weight loss pills, and free, well, just about everything. Where is the profit in this? Maybe it’s not a lot of work for the spammer, but does it ever pay off? I understand that phishing scams have the potential to be quite profitable, but spam just seems like a waste of space and time for everyone. So do us a favor spammers and go find another hobby. How about crocheting? Racquetball? Maybe stamp collecting?
So that is my brief look at how spam is taking over my life. Am I supposed to just deal with it and accept that spam will be a part of my life indefinitely? Do I even have a way to fight back without withdrawing myself from the Internet entirely (like that would ever happen)? What’s a girl to do to get a little peace and spam-free quiet these days.
[And thanks to Mashable for providing me with tons of stuff to write about in this post!]