12. What is Spam and Its Impact?, IUH 2009-12, 2ND Ed, R513A

Author Notes: Reference Copy, links to Original Copy removed due to the Age of the Content. See the top Blog Menu for Copyright Concerns, Some Content Removed.

Preface
Dr. Don, Founder ICFO

12. What is Spam and Its Impact?, IUH 2009-12, 2ND Ed, R513A

Many of us jokingly recognize Spam as canned meat that is sold internationally and has been around since 1937. Sorry. We could have added Spam to our Advertising Chapter, but the problem is so significant, it needs to stand on its own!

  • Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.
  • Today – a more generally accepted definition of SPAM seems to be one of “I don’t know or remember you, I didn’t ask for it; therefore I consider it SPAM” (See Blog entry that follows)
  • TIP: Scammers are Spammers. One of their favorite tools is Spam. Learn what it is. Learn How to protect yourself from being Labeled or Blocked for being a Spammer.
  • While the most widely recognized form of spam is email spam; the term is applied to similar abuses in other media:
  • Instant messaging spam Usenet newsgroup spam Web search engine spam Spam in blogs
  • Online classified ads spam, Mobile phone messaging spam Internet forum spam
  • Junk fax transmissions Social networking spam File sharing network spam
  • Attempts to control spam is seemingly out of control as the following blog post suggest

WHY SPAM?

  • Spamming remains economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings.
  • Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet service providers.
  • They have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming is widely reviled, and has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions.
  • Spam is prevalent on the Internet because the transaction cost of electronic communications is radically less than any alternate form of communication, far outweighing the current potential losses; as seen by the amount of spam currently in existence.
  • Spam can be used to spread computer viruses, Trojan horses or other malicious software.
  • The objective may be identity theft, or worse (e.g., advance fee fraud).
  • Some spam attempts to capitalize on human greed whilst other attempts to use the victims’ inexperience with computer technology to trick them (e.g., phishing) Wikipedia
  • According to a recent Microsoft report, 97% of the email that is sent each day is unsolicited, virus or spam mail. Another says that it is 60% spam.
  • As such, nearly everyone, as you will see, is on a “Spam Watch”. Everyone for Internet Service Providers (ISP), to Instant Messaging, (IM) to email providers is trying to find ways to stop the mail from getting through.
  • The problem created by this change of mentality, is that every email is treated as “guilty” mail until proven “innocent”.
  • Your good email may be filtered out for the choice of a wrong word. Anyone, even as a prank, can label your email as Spam, and give you the headache of a lifetime.
  • Your ability to recognize spam can help you reduce yourself from being a victim of a Scam, and give you a better chance of getting your own marketing email through to the intended receiver.
  • Further, it will reduce your likelihood of being penalized for being a spammer.

HOW TO AVOID THE SPAM FILTERS

  • To avoid being labeled or blocked as a spammer, learn what about spam and how to protect yourself against it or being penalized for using it
  • Email marketing as many of us know, can be a powerful and inexpensive method of reaching our most active potential and/or existing customers.
  • It can boost not only our direct sales, but also our credibility and referrals.
  • One of the major benefits of email marketing is that email is free, but obviously, this is the same reason that spam has become so popular and so frustrating.
  • With spam also comes the spam filters and with spam filters comes the blocking of legitimate email.

SELECTION OF WORDS

Many spam filters work by analyzing the email based on its content and the words used. Many words –

– such as free, sex and so forth — are very heavy spam trigger keywords. Your priority should be to avoid such words while keeping your newsletter as professional as possible. Later in this article, I will show you a technique that I use to help me detect words that could trigger spam filters that I may have missed.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FORMATTING

When formatting your email, keep it simple and professional. Excessive use of different colors, fonts, sizes, images and so forth will result in a higher spam filtering rate. Keep your email as clean as possible, and try to stick to a maximum of 2 or 3 different font types and sizes. Overly large sized fonts will surely add to an email being flagged as spam, as will too many images (not enough text).

Try and use a short and simple style sheet rather than using font tags excessively. Most spam filters don’t appreciate a multitude of font tags and inline formatting, and the more primitive filters can’t detect style sheets so they will not penalize as easily.

CONSISTENCY IS KING

Use a template if you plan on sending newsletters consistently. This will make sure that all your newsletters look and feel the same. It will also add a touch of professionalism and branding to your newsletters.

Whilst not directly affecting spam filters, this will enable your readers to distinguish your newsletter instantly, thus not reporting it as spam accidentally. Some spam filters work by querying a spam server, whereas others report individual emails as spam. If your email gets reported as spam, then more than likely multiple spam filters will flag your email.

Being consistent with your timing of the newsletter also helps. For example, if you send a newsletter once per month (I personally do not recommend you send out any more than this, unless you have something interesting to say), then aim to send it out at the same time, on the same day each month. Once again, your potential readers will learn to expect your email, adding professionalism and often improving open rates, also reducing accidental spam flagging as well.

ALWAYS DOUBLE OPT-IN

Always make your mailing lists double opt-in. This means that when a user subscribes to your mailing list, they will be sent an email with a link that they must click on to confirm their subscription. This is very important because many people can accidentally enter an incorrect email address or even the email address of someone else on purpose. When that person receives a newsletter they did not subscribe to, they will assume they have been spammed, and your newsletter (and possibly your web server) will be reported as spam.

UNSUBSCRIBE AND CONTACT INFORMATION

Every newsletter you send out should contain a way for the reader to unsubscribe. Not doing so is illegal in some countries and is an instant sign of spamming. You should also display your contact information (Phone, Fax and Address) clearly, as this greatly increases confidence in your email and your company, as well as conforms to spam laws in the United States. Contact information also allows a potential customer to contact you if need be.

TEST, TEST, TEST

The key to avoiding spam filters is testing. The first method of testing I use is to send the newsletter to multiple email accounts with existing spam filters. For example, I have a Gmail (http://www.gmail.com) account and a Hotmail (http://www.hotmail.com) account that I make sure I send my newsletter to. If the newsletter ends up in the junk folder, then I’ve got some work to do.

I also have a couple of email accounts with different web hosts that have spam filters in place. In particular, they mostly use spam assassin — a popular piece of spam filtering software. Spam assassin is useful because every email that it flags as spam is given a report and a list of why that email was considered spam. I also have a local spam filtering application called No Spam Today! For Workstations, that runs a local copy of spam assassin on my PC. It acts as a very close replica to the same software used on thousands of servers world-wide, by sending myself copies of the newsletter

No Spam Today! — Using the spam assassin checking techniques — gives me feedback as to why my email may have been flagged. If I have used words or formatting that I should not have, or if I have included too many images, etc. InterSpire

ALL I WANT TO DO IS SEND AN EMAIL AND MAKE SOME MONEY

  • I have to admit, it is getting tough even for the Good Guys to get email through the spam blockers.
  • We introduce Spam and spam blockers her, but see the next chapter for more detail.
  • You will quickly note from the following that almost everyone knowingly or unknowingly violates some aspect of the spam guidelines.
  • For example, look at one of my advertising programs: BuzzBee Advertising email guidelines:

BUZZ BEE MAILER

  • To keep emails from bouncing, please cloak your URL with a service like tinyURL.com or lil-URL.com.
  • The reason for this is many of the URLs being promoted are often BLACKLISTED by many ISPs. Please comply with this request.
  • We take SPAM very seriously, if we receive a complaint, we will follow through, and the member whom is spamming will be deleted and banned permanently.
  • No HTML please. No adult, offensive or illegal ads

THE SPAM HUNTER 1.0 PROGRAM

Copy and paste a mail you would normally send out on other sites. You will notice under the subject and the body that it will tell you words or phrases in your mail that should not be there. These are words that you need to change to keep mails getting through.

Note: after you add your mail just click outside the edit box to put the spam hunter to work. You will not see the send button until your mail is free of spam words and phrases and you click outside the text box.

Yes it is a bit more work but when you compare the numbers you will see far more clicks and that means more mails getting through.

TIP: Keep It Short And Sweet.

When you click your mouse outside the edit boxes the hunter goes to work. The Following are spam words you are not to use if we find you are trying to get around it by adding dots and dashes we will delete your mail and risk losing your account.

You are not to discuss ANYTHING to do with making money in your mails. Leave that to the site to sell for you. Your job is simply to get people to click your links. Buzz Bee

See Appendix B for words that are not to be used in your headlines – if you want to avoid the spam blockers

FIGHTING SPAM EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDERS

Starting out on the Internet during the late 1970’s, I used MSN and Hotmail email accounts. These accounts became too restrictive because they limited the amount of mail and the size of the attachments. Now they have improved as server storage space became cheaper

Recently, even with space, many email providers have become more selective with the types of accounts, or maybe better said the types of emails that they will take.

They use various spam checkers and I suspect with the amount of spam emails floating around, the vendors are being overloaded with their own “spam checkers” junk. More and more sites have stopped taking Yahoo and other email accounts. Most are now recommending Gmail for all business. Perhaps the following will clarify Yahoo:

YAHOO SENDING MARKETING EMAIL INTO JUNK-FOLDER PURGATORY

Changes to Yahoo’s internal rules determining whether an email is spam. Legitimate marketers began reporting in July and August that they were being shut out of the Yahoo inbox. For marketers whose mailing list is primarily Yahoo addresses, this is a major concern.

Others have countered that Yahoo’s ultimate client is the consumer. The wholesale blocking of legitimate marketers who refuse to pay to play, they contend, would prompt consumers to flee Yahoo to use more email friendly services. And that’s not in Yahoo’s best interest.

But the fact remains that Yahoo is testing new delivery algorithms that have adversely affected legitimate email marketers. And once you are in junk-folder purgatory, it is difficult not only to get out but to eliminate the ability of marketers to purge those who legitimately want off their lists as well.

The reason is that feedback loops that alert marketers to complaints made at the ISP level (i.e., those who click on the “spam” button rather than the unsubscribe link) don’t function if the email is already being sent to the junk folder, making list hygiene issues difficult for the marketers. New Rules for email Marketers

TWITTER ENLISTS USERS TO HELP FIGHT SPAM

  • Twitter has added a “Report as spam” feature to its service in an effort to get help from its users in fighting spam, the company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
  • “Folks can now help us conquer spam by calling our attention to a profile they find questionable,” a company representative wrote. “Click the ‘Report as spam’ button under the Actions section of a
  • profile’s sidebar and our Trust and Safety team will check it out to see what needs to be done.”
  • To stop users from simply using the spam feature as a weapon against others they don’t like, Twitter said that “no automated action will be taken as a result of reporting a user as spam.”
  • That said, users who click the button would automatically have the profile blocked from following or replying to them.
  • Twitter’s decision to add a “Report as spam” button is just another way the company is trying to combat spam accounts. It’s fighting an uphill battle.
  • Out of my more than 12,000 followers, I’ve found several that do nothing but spam users.
  • That said, I do believe that the “Report as spam” feature will be quite helpful in limiting that going forward. Of course, all that depends on our willingness to report others. I’m all for it. Are you? D Reisinger

CHECK YOUR GOOGLE DASHBOARD

  • Google, Yahoo and probably others know more about you than you even remember. Check it out for yourself
  • Summary Of Data Stored With This Account.
  • View and manage all the data stored with this account. Learn more. Security Note: We may sometimes ask you to verify your password, even if you have already signed in.
  • This may happen more frequently for services involving your personal information.
  • Sign in to Google Dashboard with your email: yourname @gmail.com

REDUCING SPAM

It seems like anybody, including your competitors, can report anyone for spam – by mistake or prank. You risk losing or tying up your email accounts and websites. Yahoo offers you a “spam” button to report those people who are not on your contact list that might find and contact you.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE WEBSITES BLOCKED BY TRIPOD

  • One of my favorite programs had their account closed by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) (TriPod) for alleged spam complaints.
  • Although this client had been doing business with TriPod for years, the vendor showed no mercy and shut down their sites.
  • As a result, the site owner had to change his ISP/Hosting companies that also meant new URL’s for everyone.
  • As an affiliate, I lost my momentum, time and money, especially since I was both paying for advertising and using free ads on probably 100 plus sites.
  • I am still trying to catch up to avoid the wasted clicks for a 404 page or a route to the company’s home page where the potential client is assigned to someone else.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SOCIAL ETIQUETTE?

I have already written of Facebook which for me was too social, the sharing of family albums, music trivia, etc. I was struck by Paying Social Business Networking! Why not! Although I had prior introductions such as Direct Matches and a few others unnamed, I was not bitten until I saw SWOM a social business network were I upgraded on Day 1 of sign up and have been paid continuously for 18 months as of this writing. Later introductions such as BIZOPPERS (Swom’s sister site) ISMmagic , myNetworkingPro and APSense to our list that serve as hosts for our Internet Scams Anonymous (ISA) Group

Each of these has one form of payment or another for Likes, Q&A’s, referrals, etc. Each allows the creation of Groups by upgraded members for a particular programs or cause of action. Members can create posts and /or comments for sharing.

I still see these sites as relationship building among members having a common interest of sharing their businesses online. The polarity of this concept continues to lead with new sites cropping up trying to learn and improve on the other. While it is nearly impossible to keep up with them all – especially for those that seek to have their earning pay their monthly fees, it is this focus on monthly fees that drives members resort to any tactic that might produce a like, a point, or whatever for a question, a video offering or activity.

All too often, these activities and like or vote sharing reduce the effectiveness of social Internet marketing because the questions, the videos and activities are NOT related to business or building relationships except in blocks of “I will like you if you like me” or “please vote for my video”. For many, there is little real reading or learning except to earn the point, the like or ….

One of my groups “Swom Success” with over 16,000 members used to be a hive of activities as to how to Swom, learn, connect and network with others. The tips are among the best for Swomming and networking, were praised and referred to others, but nowadays few even take the time to read them It is this concern to earn the monthly fee where many members lose their focus. Members have resorted to thinking small, tying to meet the monthly fee, rather than thinking big – networking and marketing their business opportunities.

The value of the relationship has been lost to many, or never understood, as does the real money which may be made from their bizop, product or offering. Some member focus so much on earning their monthly fee, that they spam us for votes, likes, watch my movie, and their FREE offer sites to make money online.

Others are upgraded one month and then downgraded the next losing all benefit of the upgraded membership, and further reducing their marketing potential to other Upgraded members. They have truly lost the Big Picture and the Art of Thinking Big, Their mindset has changed!

For others of us, the value remains; the networking and relationship building continues and improves, learning continues and business (as intended) is conducted. However, we still have to spend too much time policing our groups, posts etc., to try to retain the focus. Attempts to retain the purity of the concept and to eliminate the spam falls on deaf ears.

EXAMPLES SPAM: LACK OF SOCIAL ETIQUETTE OR RESPECT?

  • Groups are created by members for a particular program or cause of action.
  • Other members should respect that group’s program or cause and other than the typical hello, good morning, etc., posts and/or comment should related to the groups purpose and not introduce, share or SPAM the group with another program or cause.
  • In other words, stick to the subject, do not introduce another program, i.e. do not introduce program B in program A’s group. I recall a post to my Swom Success Group, a popular group for how to Swom where a lady recommended that the members go to a competing group following a different strategy. Spammers post their comment without regard to the originators or subject of the post.
  • They may make the same post several times in the same thread of conversation

POST OR COMMENTS. SAME AS GROUPS, STICK TO THE SUBJECT

Post Example 1:

  • From Steve Motley@facebook: “WARNING: Facebook has been hacked by someone pretending to be Facebook Security saying that “your account is reported to have violated the policies that are considered annoying or insulting”.
  • It will ask for you to confirm your Contact details … or it will disable your account. DO NOT ‘CONFIRM’, otherwise your account will be hacked. PLEASE pass this on  warn everyone!!! “
  • Comment: hi don like for you please also view my video for today ty have a gold day view @ swom.com/videos/14267
  • Remarks: Obviously this member is just looking for “likes” with total disregard for the Urgency or Nature of the Post from Steve

Post Example 2:

  • Welcome to SWOM and my SWOM SUCCESS GROUP, my pleasure to connect with you. Our sister site BIZOPPERS bizoppers.com/?r=36756, is a natural for you, and your Double Upgrade to Gold is our best value. FOCUS on your wall or PROFILE tab,
  • Respond to all Posts and Use our Daily Plan for Success. See Income and FAQ tabs. Log into our group, Read and Copy the Tips to your Desktop, Introduce yourself and look for connections. Gold Members get paid for “Like(s)”. Enjoy Judith
  • Comment: Good morning Mary, happy gold bizopping one like for sweet music for you, hope you visit my video tnx bizoppers.com/videos/17369
  • Remarks: Instead of Welcoming the new member Judith, this member ignored the member to whom the my post was made (Judith), but the comment was made to another commenter (Mary) and has nothing to do with the Subject “Welcome”

Post Example 3:

  • From Kathy Youla (Swom)> “Hi Dr Don, everyone is interested in the new Google plus project should perhaps read this first, there is a new phishing scam going round based on the new site blog.alertpay.com/2011/07/alertpay-scam-prevention-evenmore.html?”
  • Comment: Hello there, simply click on my picture and see my profile for the best money making program – do not wait click now and get the full details.
  • Remarks: Need I say more? This one is not even addressed to anyone.

TAILOR AND LIMIT YOUR COMMENTS

It is always nice to have a newbie ask to me to go gold, when he or she is not gold themselves, Further, they haven’t paid attention to the member that they are posting too.

  • Some members repeated ask me to join the same program, which if that had read my profile, they would have seen I am already a member.
  • The old offline tale of making 5 calls to make a sale does not work online. Online, it is easier just to call it Spam
  • Some member repeats the same post several times or several different posts at the same time.
  • Sort of overkill I would think. Monopolizing someone’s profile with your own interests does not help.
  • Check a spammer’s profile and you won’t see interaction; all you will see are posts after posts. Where is the relationship building?

FIRST LEGAL CASE FELONY – SPAM

VA Court Declares Spam Law Unconstitutional 2008

  • The Virginia Supreme Court Friday declared the state’s anti-spam law unconstitutional, reversing the conviction and nine-year prison sentence of a Jeremy Jaynes, a man once considered to be one of the world’s most active spammers.
  • The court unanimously agreed with Jaynes’ argument that the law violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it restricts non-commercial email as well as commercial messages.
  • In rendering the court’s opinion, Justice G. Steven Agee wrote Virginia’s anti-spam law is “unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk emails, including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
  • Virginia’s Anti-Spam Act prohibits the sending of unsolicited bulk email by fraudulent means, such as changing the header or routing information to prevent recipients from contacting or determining the identity of the sender.
  • According to prosecutors, Jaynes in 2003 sent tens of thousands of unsolicited emails with false headers and return-address information to AOL subscribers advertising dubious products such as a FedEx refund-claim product, a penny stock picker and an Internet history eraser.
  • Police searching Jaynes’ home found discs with more than 176 email addresses and 1.3 billion user names on them, according to officials. They also reportedly found discs containing 107 email addresses that had been stolen by a former AOL employee.
  • In November of 2004, Jaynes was convicted by a jury in Loudoun County Circuit Court on three counts of violating Virginia’s Anti-Spam Act, which was passed in 2003.
  • he case was the nation’s first felony conviction for spamming. After Jaynes was sentenced in 2005 to nine years in jail, he appealed, claiming Virginia’s spam law is unconstitutional. DirectMag

Thanks for Reading – 12. What is Spam and Its Impact?, IUH 2009-12, 2ND Ed, R513A

Dr Don, Founder, ICFO

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