Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How to solve the Spam problem

Real Easy.


Real Hard.

Easy: Stop clicking on spam messages when they arrive in your email.

Hard: Getting everyone to do the easy part.

Here's more in a commentary that came in my email today from Mediapost, (No, it wasn't spam):

MySpace's $235M Paper Victory
MySpace has won a nine-figure judgment against two spammers, Sanford "Spamford" Wallace and Walter Rines, who targeted members of the social networking site.

Wallace -- a recidivist spammer first accused of annoying people with e-mail ads in the 1990s -- and Rines were found to have sent more than 730,000 ads to MySpace members. They infiltrated MySpace's platform, tricked members into disclosing passwords, and then used members' profiles to send other people spam. Judge Audrey Collins in California ordered Wallace and Rines to pay MySpace around $235 million for the scheme.

The award is hefty, but the victory appears to be in name only. Neither man showed up in court to defend himself, and it doesn't look likely that MySpace will ever be able to collect on the judgment.

MySpace nonetheless hailed the decision as a victory. 'Spammers don't want to be prosecuted. They are there to make money. It's our job to send a message to stop them," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, told The Associated Press.

But it's hard to see any real connection between MySpace's empty win in court and stopping spam. Spammers are going to bother users with e-mail ads as long as it's profitable; they're not going to stop until users stop clicking through. If MySpace and other companies really want to end spam, they would do better to devote resources to educating members about not responding to spam, and disclosing their passwords, than pursuing litigation against individuals who don't appear likely to ever pay the company.

Post your response to the public Online Examiner blog.

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