are smarter about avoiding email
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Columbia
Canadians like to think of themselves as superior to their cousins to
the south. We have health care, they have hand guns. But at the same
time, we feel inferior, always ever so thrilled if they recognize one
of our musicians or actors or scientists (after he or she has moved to
LA or New York).
But what should we make of these statistics revealed in
Ipsos-Reid’s recent survey of Internet trends?
Ipsos-Reid’s recently-released survey revealed that spam
accounted for about half of the messages cluttering
inboxes in 2004. But is that glass half full or half empty? 49% spam is
a lot of junk messages, but for the first time in the past four years,
it’s lower than the previous year. In 2003, some 68% of
were spam. The difference is probably due to a massive increase in
usage of spam filtering software—both by individuals on their
computers, and by business networks and Internet Service Providers,
filtering mail before it even reached your computers.
According to Ipsos-Reid, 77% of the people polled said they were using
spam filtering in 2004, compared to 41% in 2003.
Legislation by both the US and Canada has been enacted, but
doubtful that it’s had much effect; certainly there
been much enforcement of the laws in either country, and I
see any evidence that it’s been much of a deterrent.
Ipsos-Reid polls, though, indicated some interesting differences
between American and Canadian users in how they respond to spam. 47%,
nearly half, of the Americans polled had responded to spam by clicking
to get more information. Only 20% of Canadians had taken that step.
(Responding to spam—even clicking on a message promising to
remove you from the spammer’s mailing list lets the sender
that they’ve reached a valid email address, resulting in more
unwanted junk mail. Don’t do it!)
30% of Americans have entered spam-promoted contests, compared to 15%
of Canadians. And nearly 20% of Americans admit to buying something
advertised in a spam message.
(Many wonder why, since everyone claims to resent spam, advertisers
continue to churn out the stuff. If 19% of Americans buy something in
response to an advertising pitch that costs next to nothing to send
out, it’s no wonder that the garbage continues to pile up in
Canadians seem much more resistant to the sort of marketing. A mere 1%
of Canadians polled admit to buying something advertised in a spam
(Of course, maybe Canadians are just shyer about admitting that
they’d fallen for a spammer’s spiel).
If, despite the reported drop in the amount of spam showing up in
Canadian inboxes, you’re still feeling overwhelmed by junk
start by checking with your Internet Service Provider or your
employer’s network administrator; check whether they are
providing spam filtering. If your ISP isn’t filtering out
before it gets to you, consider taking your business elsewhere. Your
ISP may be offering spam filtering, but waiting for you to turn it on;
Shaw cable Internet customers, for example, need to log onto
Shaw’s webmail service (webmail.shaw.ca
and turn on spam filtering in the preferences.
As well, start using email software that include spam filtering;
Apple’s Mail, Mozilla Firebird, the paid (but not free)
of Eudora, and recent versions of Microsoft Outlook (but not Outlook
Express) are some that do. Free programs such as PopFile or MailWasher
can work with email software that doesn’t include built-in
While the amount of spam making it into Canadian inboxes is down, other
email perils continue. The same Ipsos-Reid survey suggests that in
2004, 58% of Canadians reported receiving virus-infected files via
email, 14% higher than in the previous year.
Stay vigilant; it’s still a dangerous Internet out