How well do you know your spam?Written by Carl E. Reid on December 9, 2008
Here are some tidbits to share as ongoing education for your email user community.
Spamming is an old marketing technique – In the late 19th Century Western Union allowed telegraphic messages on its network to be sent to multiple destinations. The very first spam was sent by a dentist advertising his services via telegram in 1864. Then, as in now, people who got the unsolicited telegrams became angry. Some people even wrote the local newspaper complaining of the advertising tactic. When the paper reprinted the telegram, the dentist received more free publicity!
The first email spam was sent by Digital Equipment Corporation’ s marketing manager Gary Thuerk in 1978 to 393 recipients on ARPANET. He was advertising the availability of a new model of DEC computers.
Spam targeting search engines - Spamdexing refers to the practice on the World Wide Web of modifying HTML pages to increase the chances of them being placed high on search engine relevancy lists. These sites use “black hat search engine optimization techniques” to unfairly increase their rank in search engines. Many modern search engines modified their search algorithms to try to exclude web pages utilizing spamdexing tactics.
Blog, wiki, and guest book spam – Blog spam, or “blam” for short, is spamming on weblogs. In 2003, this type of spam took advantage of the open nature of comments in the blogging software Movable Type by repeatedly placing comments to various blog posts that provided nothing more than a link to the spammer’s commercial web site.
Mobile phone spam - Directed at the text messaging service of a mobile phone. This can be especially irritating to customers not only for the inconvenience but also because of the fee they may be charged per text message received in some markets. The term “SpaSMS” was coined at the adnews website Adland in 2000 to describe spam SMS.
Spam targeting video sharing sites – Web sites, such as YouTube, are now being frequently targeted by spammers. The most common technique involves people (or spambots) posting links to sites, (i.e. adult, online dating etc.) within the comments section of random videos or people’s profiles.
Online game messaging spam – Many online games allow players to contact each other via player-to-player messaging, chat rooms, or public discussion areas. What qualifies as spam varies from game to game, but usually this term applies to all forms of message flooding, violating the terms of service contract for the website.
Instant Messaging Spam – Sometimes referred to as Spim (a combinations of spam and IM, short for instant messenger), makes use of instant messaging systems, such as AOL Instant Messenger, Xfire, ICQ, Yahoo messenger or Windows Live Messenger. Many IM systems offer a user directory, including demographic information that allows an advertiser to gather the information, sign on to the system, and send unsolicited messages.