Why Is Spam Around? Because 12% Of Readers Actually Try To Buy The Stuff

Why, in a rational world, does spam continue to exist? Because someone you know—or maybe it’s you—has actually tried to buy something from it, a new study finds. Find that person and beat him (or yourself) with a stapler.

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, or MAAWG, ha ha, conducted “800 interviews with computer users in the United States and Canada who said they were not ‘security experts’ and who used email addresses that were not managed by a professional IT department.” A little over half of respondents admitted to clicking on “what they felt was spam,” but for a variety of reasons, including by accident, to contact the company, or our favorite response, because they’re not sure why.

But the horrific part comes on page 16 of Part 2 of the report, which you can download here (pdf).

It says that 12% have responded to spam because they were “interested in product/service.”

On page 38, the survey breaks down the “yeah I clicked on it” group by age, which is fun to look at if you have presuppositions about how certain age groups treat spam. For example, the 65 and older crowd seems less likely to want to buy erection pills, but more likely to send a note to the company; while the 18-24 crowd has a strong desire to “see what would happen” if they clicked. (As usual, I trend with the seniors: I went on a weird anti-spam kick in, oh, 2000 or so and responded to every spam I got for about three weeks asking to be removed from any mailing list, before I figured out that I was making the problem worse. *sigh*)

“A Look at Consumers’ Awareness of Email Security, Part 1” [MAAWG]
“A Look at Consumers’ Awareness of Email Security, Part 2” [MAAWG via Metafilter]
(Photo: mray)

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