Spam: The Crack Cocaine Of Modern Advertising

from the it-ain't-easy dept

Nothing all that new in this column, but it does express concisely the real issue behind spam: thanks to a few clueless people who respond to spam the rest of us are much worse off. As the article states (so eloquently): “Spam is the crack cocaine of modern advertising.” He points out that “uninformed people are making decisions that affect everyone on the Internet” and suggests we need to do something to stop those people. The question, then, is what? The only idea he comes up with is requiring people to get a “license” to use the internet – which is unlikely to fly.

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Comments on “Spam: The Crack Cocaine Of Modern Advertising”

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Mikester says:


The only real long term solution is to make sure the education system (K-12) is embedding ‘best practices’ of using the internet in our children so that they’ll be wise to these marketing schemes. Obviously this doesn’t help us in the near term, but there really isn’t an efficient way to educate the public at large. The media stories about spammers and scammers certainly don’t seem to be doing much

aNonMooseCowherd says:

spammers adapt

Spammers unfortunately adapt their methods, and if people stop responding to the current types of spam, almost all of which are obviously bogus, the spammers will just make their pitches look more believable, e.g. by pointing to web sites purporting to be testimonials or even government endorsements of their products.

Kelly (user link) says:

the idiot tax

Ah, but wait – the wise Arnold Kling proposes the following:

Perhaps we should think about the issue differently. The problem is that businesses pay spammers to send spam. Presumably, they do this because it is profitable. Presumably, this is because there are woodheads out there who buy goods and services from spammers.

Perhaps instead of trying to attack the problem by going after spammers, what we should be doing is going after the woodheads. It is almost impossible to enforce a law against sending spam. So we should try to pass a law against responding to spam.

What I propose is that any American who makes a purchase based on unsolicited email be fined $10,000 and jailed for 30 days. The law would be enforced by undertaking random audits of companies that are successful at attracting business by using spam. The law would be highly publicized by internet service providers and corporate CIO’s, who have a strong interest in reducing the volume of spam. Thus, everyone with an Internet account would be on notice that purchasing from a spammer can get you in trouble.

If we can deter Americans from responding to spam, then spammers will stop routing spam to domains in the U.S. That’s my solution.

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