Way back in 1864, unwanted messages were already finding a way to target people in an annoying manner. Telegraph lines were used to send fishy investment pitches to Americans wealthy enough to make it on a selected list. (Lucky them.)
In 1978, modern spam reared its ugly head on a computer network used by the military. Gary Turk sent an unwanted email advertising his hip new computers. The 400 targeted people were so upset and annoyed that no one tried this method of solicitation for years to come.
In 1994, some lawyers spammed people for their law services, defended themselves in the name of free speech, and wrote a book called How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway.
This brought to life more spam than anyone could have possibly imagined.
So in 2003, U.S. Congress showed they cared about our inboxes by passing the CAN-SPAM Act.
The Act Stated:
- No one should use deceptive headings.
- The sender’s valid postal addresses should be included. (This was confusing for me to navigate when I set up my email list and wanted to be semi-anonymous.)
- The senders should notify people when an online interaction is an advertisement or solicitation.
Thanks, Congress. You tried.
Fast forward to now, and it is estimated 93% of comments on blogs are spam, while 78% of emails sent are spam.
According to one 2018 statistic, spam is estimated to cost U.S. businesses around $20.5 billion each year.
That’s just the loss of money. What about the loss of sanity?
Sprinkling Our Days With Spam
Editing out the spam on your blog shows your readers you monitor your site and take their comments seriously. As your blog gets more popular, you won’t get less spam - you’ll probably receive more of it.
Whether you are a blogger or not, spam haunts the online world as a disorienting force of interruption. For me personally, it’s hard not to lose my train of thought as I delete nonsensical spam each night before going to bed.
Spam first shows up as a momentary brain rush of recognition because I think there’s a comment on my blog. Then I find out it’s someone writing about credit restoration, the end of times, microchips in bodies, cheap chew toys, or a host of other bizarre topics built as click bate.
That’s not what I want to go to bed thinking about. Maybe I should just watch something instead...
Thanks, Monty Python
The philosophy teacher I had in college drove home the main message in each of his lessons with a Monty Python sketch. I’ll be frank. I was less than amused. But one of those sketches was related to how spam got its name.
“Unsolicited commercial e-mail” is the grown-up phrase we would have been doomed to use instead of “spam” if it weren’t for Monty Python.
I was really excited to write more about this topic (not really, I kind of regretted it after about five minutes of research), but then I found out Business Insider beat me to it! Check out this video for a rundown of the Monty Python sketch and some other odd facts about spam.