Friday, March 22, 2013

Who is Supporting All the Spam???

I don't think that I am alone in saying that the vast majority of my email is Spam. Even with the Junk filtering tools of Thunderbird, I still get the privilege of deleting 30-50 messages a day from my various emails. While I understand that sending Spam is free, I have wondered who is buying the products that are trying to be hawked.

Spam comes in various forms. There is the phishing spam. This is meant to get you to give them your data to some bank or other account that has money that the perp will then access and clear out for your convenience.

Next is the porn spam. I understand this completely. Some people just have a need to see some girl named Natasha take it all off.  Yahoo is big on this, everytime I log in there are 50 bazillion chat requests from "girls in my area."

Now on to the spam that I don't understand. The sad story/joke/incorrect blurb spam. This is usually sent by well meaning friends and family to let you know that an angel is watching over you, or that some political figure is trying to take over the world, or the signs of a redneck. The reason why this stuff is so annoying is in many cases the sender never bothered to remove the long list of headers that were left by all of the other morons who forwarded it. Also, spelling and grammar were not on anyone's priority list. Finally, I would estimate a good 95% of the time they are false to begin with. I rarely read forwarded spam, but when I do one of the first places I look is This website does an excellent job of fact checking on all of the various urban legend emails that are out there. For a while I would reply back to whoever sent the email with the information from Snopes. Since I still keep getting the same kind of junk from the same people, I gave up on that.

The stock picks of the day. Why would anyone buy an investment based on an email that was unsolicited. Most of what is advertised needs to be capitalized on daytrading (or week trading). I am not that kind of guy. In the last 5 years, the only stock that I sold was TXU and that was really because they were bought out (so I really didn't sell it, the new company just bought it and I am forced to pay taxes on my windfall). Here is a hint. The last place you should look for investment advice is your Inbox.

Next in a similar vein is the Rolex/Breitling/Viagra/Cialis/other product. More often than not, one of the words in the subject is misspelled or numeralized on purpose to avoid the spam trackers. Who in their right mind is buying expensive watches from an email? Unfortunately there has to be one or two people, otherwise we wouldn't be getting all of these emails. As for drugs, don't you think you should maybe be getting them from a pharmacy rather than the world wide web? If you need the Viagra that badly, maybe you should click on the porn spam a little more.

Finally, the foreign language spam. This comes in two forms, one that my computer can understand and prints out the characters (in Russian, Chinese, Korean, Tamil, etc) and the one that my computer can't understand which usually results in boxes or wingdings. If I knew what these said I could probably classify them as one of the others above. As it is, they just simply get deleted.

Facebook has largely replaced a lot of the spam.  Now, instead of seeing it in an inbox, you can view it on your timeline.  There has to be some scientific studies out there about the social drive to create spam, because we have been doing it for at least the last 100 years (possibly even thousands of years if we had better records to review).  It has come in every communication format that we have developed and I see no sign of it slowing down.

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