Rethinking How to Deal with Spam

Aug 25, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The more effort and dollars are spent on trying to rid the Internet of spam,
the bigger the problem becomes.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, “Efforts to kill spam have
had the unfortunate effect of making the rogue e-mails stronger. As Federal
Trade Commission spam expert Brian Huseman noted in a recent interview, all
those fancy blocking systems sometimes create a ‘perverse result, that spammers
send out even more messages to make sure a certain number are received.’ By
some estimates, spam represents more than half of all e-mail traffic, and its
mailbox-chomping appetite seems limitless.”

The answer to how to put an end to spam may not be in more sophisticated and
expensive blocking systems but in public education that reduces the number of
responses to these e-mails.

Dennis Berman, the author of the WSJ piece, suggests “Maybe all the
companies losing millions to process and block spam could contribute to a new
public-service campaign warning of the perils of responding to spam. Such a
campaign could push the spam problem into some kind of economic equilibrium,
where the returns from sending 20 million e-mails are no greater than sending
10 million, or five million.”

Moderator’s Comment: How do we determine which represents
legitimate email marketing and that which is spam? Does the answer for ending
spam lay in legislation, blocking technology or in a just say no public education
program as suggested in The Wall Street Journal?

We’re intrigued by Mr. Berman’s recommendation for a public
education approach to the problem. Of course, this will only help to reduce
the problem. We know from past experience attempting to educate the public on
important health issues does not mean that every individual will actually learn
Anderson – Moderator

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