Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Busting Spammers on the WWW

By Noah Masterson

JUNE 22, 1998:  If you spend any time on the Internet, chances are you've received a "spam" e-mail. For those of you living in a cave, spam is the Net's version of junk mail--an unwanted, unsolicited Internet advertisement. The most common types of spam advertise smut and mass-mailing software. The latter is the most offensive because it breeds more spammers. The ubiquitous word can also be used in verb form, as in, "That fucker spammed me!"

While spam may seem harmless, it clogs mail servers worldwide, resulting in slower connections and untold man-hours spent by the kind folks at your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It is a ridiculous waste of resources, not to mention aggravating. Because your ISP spends so much time processing spam, their operating costs go up, and eventually they will raise the cost of your service. You are paying to be spammed so, in that sense, Internet spam is far worse than the junk mail delivered for free by your mail carrier.

Personally, I receive about six spam e-mails a day. It requires some effort, but I complain to each spammer's ISP, often resulting in the cancellation of the spammer's Internet account. (Any spammers reading this article, take note.) It is tempting to reply to a spammer with an angry e-mail, but all you're really doing is confirming that the spammer's message reached you successfully. Plus, spammers almost always rig their e-mails to have a false return address.

The Web contains many sites that provide useful information about busting spammers--proving, once again, that the Internet can be both friend and foe.


Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email

(www.cauce.org)

CAUCE is one of the more organized anti-spam sites. It offers the latest information about pending anti-spam legislation--including the complete text of each of the various anti-spam bills--and information about how to deal with spammers. Also at this site is an anti-spam form letter to mail (snail-mail, that is) to your representatives in Washington and clear rebuttals to each of the points made by pro-spam lobbyists. This is a great place to start, and offers links to other anti-spam sites.


The MMF Hall of Humiliation

(ga.to/mmf/)

MMF stands for "Make Money Fast," which is one of the most common subject headings on a spam e-mail or newsgroup post. The creators of this Web site revel in publicly ridiculing get-rich-quick scammers on the Internet. They post home addresses and telephone numbers of notorious spammers, as well as hilarious correspondence between their cohorts--pretending to be interested in the scam--and the scammers themselves. Internet spammers are often easy targets for ridicule; they are usually dumb kids or even dumber grownups. But that doesn't render them any less deserving of the tar-and-feathering they get on this site. Bravo!


Apex Pacific

(www.apex-pi.com/)

Apex is just one of the many companies offering bulk e-mailing programs to spammers. On the first page of their Web site, they claim, "We are not spam. We do not support spam." Delve a little deeper and they have this to say: "With e-mail, your potential customer is forced to read at least the subject line of your letter." And this: "You could mail over 10,000 (e-mails) an hour with a simple 28.8 modem." And most damning of all, this: "As you may be aware of, bulk e-mail is frowned upon by some people, who call it junk e-mail, spamming and so on. These people will soon realize that it is inevitable, and the people who are against it will almost totally disappear!" If that's not spam, I don't know what the hell is.

Worst of all, most of these companies offer a trial version of their spamming software for free. Spammers may be stupid, but the software companies that enable them willfully perpetuate a hurtful, irresponsible practice. These dipshits sell their products by giving the impression that the only people opposed to spam are computer geeks on the fringe of Net society. This is a misconception. Nearly everyone hates spam; the problem is that only the geeks know how to raise a ruckus about it. Until the average computer user is hipped to the evils of spam, your inbox will continue to be clogged with useless information.


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