What is SPAM?

What is SPAM?

Where does the word SPAM come from?

Spam is actually a trademark of the American canned food company Hormel Foods Corporation.

Spam is a well-known brand of canned chopped pork and ham. Cans of “Spam” are still sold in the States to this day and are even part of the combat readiness packs of the US Army.

A tin of SPAM

A tin of SPAM

However, the term Spam acquired the meaning it is known by today after a Monty Python skit from the 1970s, which satirized the annoying way in which this food was advertised.

From that moment, and in the age of the Internet, the concept of Spam already has a single meaning:

An annoying ad sent via e-mail to many people (sometimes hundreds of thousands) who never wanted it.

What is SPAM these days?

The United States is the first to define this concept with a precise legal term: it is called UCE (unsolicited commercial email), and it is prosecuted by law.

The US Senate recently passed a law making spam punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $500,000!

Why is spam so dangerous?

Mailing advertisements have always been characteristic of the market economy and developed trade. Before the age of the Internet, however, this phenomenon did not threaten anyone, simply because it required expenses to send an advertising letter by regular mail. At least – for paper, an envelope and a postage stamp. On the other hand, the person receiving it could have simply thrown it in the trash. This required no expenses on his part.

In the age of the Internet, things are already radically different. People sending such unsolicited ads can send their annoying messages to hundreds of thousands, even millions of unsuspecting Internet users with just one keystroke.

In turn, unhappy users are forced to download these messages from the Web (which costs them money for Internet traffic) or have to constantly “clean” their online mailboxes to avoid congestion, which also costs them time and nerves.

When is a message SPAM?

According to Elena Faulkner, lawyer and Internet expert, spam is divided into four main categories:

  1. Sending an advertising message to even one Internet user who has not expressly requested this. In fact, if a stupid thing clogs up your inbox, it probably won’t matter to you whether you’re alone or there are a hundred thousand others like you.
  2. Sending users advertising messages and mail with content other than what they have indicated they want to receive. For example, if you give your e-mail address to receive news about new books, but instead you also receive ads for new porn sites, this is again spam.
  3. Sending advertising messages and mail to users at a frequency other than advertised. For example, if you subscribe to monthly information, but receive advertising messages daily, the spam is there again.
  4. Opting random people into mailing lists, giving them the “option” to unsubscribe. This is the most annoying and brazen type of spam because it looks “legitimate”.

Since spam is not prosecuted as long as the victim is given the opportunity to unsubscribe, some people use this to “legitimately” harass you.

Not only do they brazenly include you in their victim lists, but they “legally” require you to take steps (ie waste time and nerves) to unsubscribe.

Then, what should we do with SPAM?

  • First of all – never resort to this kind of “marketing and advertising”. The only thing you might get is a certain amount of (justified) expletives in the mail.
    If you have to send an e-mail to a stranger (an inquiry or an offer), always address him personally – by name. Never send ads to strangers unless they have specifically asked for it.
  • If you get spam, never reply! This will only give the sender confidence that you read your mail regularly, and they will continue to harass you.
  • Use spam filters. There is a software called Spam Killer, but be careful how you set it up so you don’t “filter out” useful messages.
    You can also use the capabilities of your e-mail program to protect yourself. Most such programs (such as Microsoft Outlook) can automatically delete messages that meet the criteria you set. For example, messages from a certain domain, or messages containing certain text in their subject  or in the main body.
  • Finally, the surest thing – don’t get nervous! Just press the “Delete” key regularly :-).