What isIn Internet slang, the term "spam" refers not to a famous canned meat product, but rather to messages sent to individual email addresses, or articles posted repeatedly to a large number of Usenet newsgroups. Many (if not all) spams are commercial and/or self-promoting, and unwanted by nearly everyone.
Spam is destructive. It wastes the time of thousands of people who must wade through junk to read Usenet news or their mail, and reduces the available Internet bandwidth which could be otherwise used for productive purposes. If spam is not discouraged or restricted by system administrators, the Internet will be in danger of being swamped by junk, damaging the very medium spammers hope to exploit.
If it's so bad, why do spammers spam?
It's cheap. A spammer need send only one email, with a list of addresses, and the server will make X copies of it, one for each recipient. Traditional bulk mail is expensive. With a $20/month account a spammer can send their messages to hundreds, thousands, even millions of Internet email addresses.
What can I do about it?
Complain! Send a polite email message to the sender requesting to be taken off his/her junk mail list immediately. It is also a good idea to carbon- copy abuse and postmaster of the domain, since spammers often do not provide a valid return address.
Alternatively, you can forward the message to email@example.com which will complain for you. You will receive a carbon copy of the complaint.
- zNET's SMTP server was used as an
SMTP relayfor a spam that was sent from a UU.NET account in Florida. There were so many copies being generated and sent that it literally brought down the system. Since then, we (and many ISPs are doing the same) have had to close our SMTP servers to all but zNET users.
- Wallace Sanford, a name already made famous by his junk fax schemes, set up CyberPromo for the expressed purpose of sending spam. He moved from one ISP to another until he ended up at AGIS who maintained a liberal policy toward spammers. It took many months but the persistent work of anti-spam forces finally compelled AGIS to change their spam policy. Sanford is now, and has been for sometime, "homeless."
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