What Is Spam?

Home & Family, Technology
on March 8, 2012

Spam is an unsolicited bulk email message. The content of spam messages vary. It may offer you something free, ask for investment money, direct you to a specific website or even display pictures of mature subject matter. It clogs up your email inboxes and can even bring nasty viruses to your computer.

Why is it called spam? The term spam originated in the 1980s. It generally is believed the term was inspired by a Monty Python sketch from the early 1970s. The sketch takes place in a café, which features many menu items that include the canned meat SPAM. A group of dining Vikings loudly sings about the SPAM, drowning out everyone and making a general ruckus. The word SPAM repeats throughout the Vikings' song and the sketch. This repetition is viewed as a SPAMming of the dialogue, states Spam Ignorer.

Who sends spam? Spam is sent by marketers hoping to get their product or service to anybody and everybody. It costs them very little to send these unsolicited bulk email messages. In return, they may find someone who is willing to pay for their product or service and invest in their moneymaking opportunity.

How to reduce spam. Five tips to reduce spam on your computer include:

  1. Never use your email address as your user name or screen name anywhere online.
  2. Always use a spam blocker and keep your email privacy settings set at the highest level.
  3. Read your email messages as text only to avoid downloading viruses or adware. If you still want to see pictures and other formatted text, read your messages in a preview window before opening. This also will prevent unwanted viruses from creeping in via spam.
  4. If you don’t know the sender or address, don’t trust it. Be cautious when clicking on any links in emails that appear to be advertisements, unless you know and trust the site that has sent the message.
  5. When registering your email address on any website, always read the privacy policy and be sure you can opt out of future emails, newsletters and other notifications. Check to see if the site will share your email address with a third party. If this is a possibility, do not register your email address.

Use an alternate email address. Spam Laws suggests creating an alias email address to create a level of anonymity between you and spammers. Sneakemail.com is a service that provides anonymous email addresses that forward messages to your actual email account, reducing the amount of spam you may receive. You can create a different faux email for each website you subscribe to, making it easier to trace spam if it starts arriving in your inbox.