I Hate Regular Spam and Facebook Spam

March 10, 2011

Unless you are a spammer who profits from sending spam, I’m sure you hate it almost as much as me. I say almost as much as I’m sure that I am adversely affected by spam more than the average user. In this post I want to talk about a few different types of spam, ways to prevent it and ways to allow good e-mail to arrive in your inbox.

I hate it for many of the reasons you hate it and that is because I get a lot of it. I’ll talk more about that in second. As a businessperson who sends legitimate e-mail in large numbers, I hate that messages I send are often blocked. For example, we may send an e-mail to confirm an order and the customer never gets it. That customer then contacts us and voices their dissatisfaction that they didn’t receive a confirmation. Some of those messages are pretty ugly. Yet the problem is simply that our e-mail was blocked by the customer’s e-mail provider and/or filtering. I would appreciate it if you could all make sure that you have our e-mail addresses whitelisted so that they have the best chance possible to get through any filters. I have included a graphic above right with the two addresses we actively use so you can mark them as good in your e-mail filter. While you are whitelisting our addresses, you may want to think of other addresses you should whitelist.

Some of you use an automated tool to approve/disapprove of e-mail senders. I find those automated tools to be a much bigger problem than they are a solution. Let me explain. You buy a product from a company. That company e-mails you a confirmation of your order. Your tool then sends an e-mail back asking the company to click something and type in a CAPTCHA to confirm they are a human. Often the addresses that send order confirmations are “no reply” addresses and they won’t ever see your tool’s message. When I send out our Graphics Unleashed Newsletter, I may receive hundreds of those types of messages in my inbox. To me, those messages are spam!

There are also users who consider any e-mail they don’t want to read to be spam. There is a huge difference between something you don’t want to read and something that is truly spam. Legitimate businesses send e-mail to inform you and yes that could be to encourage you to purchase something. They also provide you a way to unsubscribe if it is something that doesn’t interest you.

I’ll give you an example. I bought a jacket from a company three years ago. It was a great deal and the company delivered it in a timely manner. Because I purchased something from them, I receive several messages a month from them about other products they sell. I’m not in the market for any of their products right now, so I rarely want to read the messages. I have two choices. I can just delete the messages until I am in the market again for their products or I can unsubscribe. What you shouldn’t do is mark the e-mail as spam! Spammers are often linked to criminal organizations and they don’t give you the choice to unsubscribe. Heck, they don’t even sell legitimate products. If you mark e-mail from a legitimate company as spam, you will hurt that legitimate company as it will be harder for them to get e-mail to customers who want their messages.

Any e-mail that we send to a large list includes a link to unsubscribe. If you don’t want to receive it in the future, just unsubscribe. Of course I also get e-mail from recipients yelling at me to unsubscribe them when there is a link right in the e-mail they send to me for doing it. No need to yell about it, just click the unsubscribe link.

There is also another kind of spam that drives me crazy. It is called backscatter spam. In a two hour period a few weeks ago, I got over 24,000 messages that were backscatter spam. The culprit was sending messages and using an unused unleash address in the “sender” field. Just looking at the header of the messages made it very clear that it was bogus. Spammers aren’t very concerned about whether they send to good addresses or not. So if any of the messages they were sending went to a bad address or were blocked, the recipient’s system replied with a bounce message. As the unleash address was listed as the sender, the bounce messages came to me….all 24,000+ of them. Once I discovered it, it was pretty easy for me to block the messages from getting into my inbox. Unfortunately they are probably still being sent by the spammer in South Korea (yes, I know where it originates). I fear that the blocking I used will prevent me from receiving legitimate e-mail in the future, but such drastic amounts of spam required drastic measures on my part.

Facebook has brought about a completely different kind of virus/spam. Now if you are truly my friend, you know I’m not a “fan” of Facebook. I find it has a few benefits to me, but it causes many more problems. One of the latest problems is that an account will get infected and post something stupid on all of their friends walls. When someone clicks the stupid link that was posted, they get infected and the cycle continues. It is pretty easy to avoid getting infected. Don’t click on those stupid posts! They are so easy to spot that I’m amazed people still click on them. The latest one is something or other about someone committing suicide on camera. Really? You think one of your friends posted that? If something looks even remotely suspicious and asks you to click on it, don’t do it. If you really want to click, ask the friend who posted it if it was really them. In almost all cases, I bet they didn’t! There are also a lot of very sketchy applications on Facebook that cause infection. It is really simply to avoid this problem and that is to not install them in the first place. If you really want to install something, do a search on it before installing to see what others are saying about it.

Whew, I’m glad to get that off my chest. I know it is a bit of a rant, but hopefully you found the information useful and you can manage your spam better going forward.

Post Discussion

1 Comment

  1. Foster D. Coburn III

    Brian suggested I pass along the following about Facebook Security. It is good advice to follow!

    While on Facebook, look at your URL address; if you see http: instead of https: then you don’t have a secure session and you can be hacked. Go to Account…Account Settings…Account Security and click Change. Check the first setting, FB defaults to the non-secure setting. I know people whose FB accts were hijacked.. the hijacker messaged the friends they were stranded and needed money.


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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