Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Don't) Spam A Lot (Or At All)


“We eat ham, and jam and Spam a lot.” ~  Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975

I’m seeing an incredible amount of virus-generated spam on Facebook these days. It’s ruining the Facebook experience for a lot of people who are tired of seeing unwanted messages being posted automatically on their walls. The spike in spam prompted me to post this message on my Facebook wall the other day:


Spam is distracting, intrusive and even destructive. It's virtual environmental pollution that's threatening to overwhelm us in this digital age where it’s so easy to keep creating and distributing content for free. And I don’t mean just on Facebook or Twitter. It’s crept into many aspects of our communication:

when we write gobbledygook.
when our content is not meaningful to our audience.
when we distribute releases that have no news value.
when we send e-newsletters/email blasts to people who never opted in.
when we hit reply all to emails that may not really be relevant or necessary for all recipients.
when we push our links on Twitter during a Tweetchat we’re not participating in.
…the list can go on and on.

It may seem obvious but I’ve been surprised by how many of my (smart) Facebook friends have clicked on spam-like content so there is definitely a need to educate people about spam and the viruses it can infect their devices with.

How can we eliminate or at least reduce and protect ourselves from spam?
Here is a list of some possible steps:
  • Report and block spam on Facebook and Twitter (Norton has a Safe Web App for Facebook that automatically scans all links that are viewable to you on Facebook and warns you of potential threats.)
  • Don’t click on anything that seems too good to be true, odd or even fishy.
  • Think and plan our content carefully and stop publishing for the sake of it.
  • Include unsubscribe buttons on email newsletters (a former client once asked me to make the unsubscribe option as small and obscure as possible so that it would be difficult for people to find and unsubscribe. I cannot even begin to point out the futility (not to mention illegality) of pushing content out to someone who is not interested and doesn’t want to keep reading it. )
  • Educate yourself about the anti-spamming laws in your country (such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. to protect yourself against spammers.
  • Include your name in the 'National Do Not Call registry' to avoid receiving automated and unsolicited sales calls if you are in the U.S. (On a recent trip to India, I got a local phone card and was inundated with constant automated phone calls from the phone company.)
  • Hotmail is a magnet for spam so if you still use Hotmail for your emails you may want to switch to gmail that has better spam filters. You can also create a filter that checks for messages that do not include your email address in the "To:" or "CC:" fields, which is quite common for spam emails.
  • Uncheck the ‘would you like to receive emails and offers’ box if you are signing up for a service or registering on a site and don’t want to receive information from them.
How do you keep out spam in your personal and professional communications? Share your tips.

2 comments:

  1. I can't help but judge the people on my facebook wall who bothered to click on the spam links . Nice tips!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know what you mean! Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

    ReplyDelete

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