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Spam Messages Increase, Lose Effectiveness

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As spam mailings continue to permeate email inboxes around the Internet, the majority of those who receive spam accept the unsolicited emails in stride, almost as if it’s an expected occurrence when using the Internet.

Spam Messages Increase, Lose Effectiveness
Spam becoming less effective…

A study conducted by Deborah Fallows of the Pew Internet & American Life Project looked at the state of email goings-on since the passing of the CAN-SPAM act. The study concluded while spam mailings have indeed increased since that act’s passing, more people are learning to live with these mailings. It’s almost as if the respondents resigned themselves to the fact they will receive a percentage of spam mailings with their normal emails.

To determine their findings, Pew conducted a nationwide phone survey of 1, 421 Internet users between January 13 and February 9, 2005. Some of the statistical highlights include:

  • 52% of Internet users consider spam a big problem
  • 28% of users with a personal email account say they are getting more spam than a year ago, while 22% say they are getting less.
  • 21% of users with a work email account say they are getting more spam than a year ago, while 16% say they are getting less.
  • 53% of email users say spam has made them less trusting of email, compared to 62% a year ago.
  • 22% of email users say that spam has reduced their overall use of email, compared to 29% a year ago.
  • 67% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying, compared to 77% a year ago.
  • 63% of email users say they have received porn spam, compared to 71% who said that a year ago.
  • 35% of email users say they have received unsolicited email requesting personal financial information.
  • The final statistic concerns the increase of phishing attacks disguised as legitimate-looking emails. As indicated, 35% of those surveyed have received unwanted emails asking for personal information concerning financial accounts and credit card data. However, while phishing attack mailings may have increased, the amount of porn-related spam showing up in email inboxes has actually decreased.

    Another item the survey attempted to determine were people’s attitudes toward the spam they receive. During 2003′s survey, “25% of internet users reported they were using email less because of spam, and 52% said spam made them less trusting of email in general. In addition, some 71% said that spam made being online unpleasant or annoying.”

    However, as users learn to live with unsolicited mailings, attitudes towards spam change as well. The Pew study reveals:

    In January, 2005, some 22% of email users say that spam has reduced their overall use of email – 3 percent less than numbers from 19 months earlier; and 53% say that spam has made them less trusting of email in general – one per cent more than 19 months earlier. The effect of spam on the internet in general also decreased to a new low; some 67% of users said spam made being online unpleasant or annoying — 4 points below numbers from 19 months earlier.

    While people’s attitudes toward spam may be changing, their ability to protect themselves is not. During the last study, 69% of those surveyed said they say they would avoid posting their email addresses to web sites, a common source for spammers to collect email addresses. That number has only fallen by 5 percentage points, making it 64%. The study also indicated:

    Still, there seem to be enough email users willing to check out the material that arrives in unsolicited commercial email. Some 6% of email users say they have ordered a product or service offered in an unsolicited email, a number that is virtually unchanged from 7% in June 2003 and 5% one year ago. It is certainly a number adequate to make spam profitable for some purveyors.

    To learn more about Pew’s results, please read their PDF detailing their findings. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus three points.

    Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

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