Pin Me

The Top Ten Facts About Spam

written by: Lee Clemmer•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/5/2010

We find spam in our e-mail inboxes, our junk mail folders, and more and more often in our text messages and instant messages. There's so much spam out there, and lots to know about it. This article lists the top ten facts about Spam.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Lots to Know About Spam

    Spam is so pervasive (unfortunately) that there is a lot to know about it. Spam has been around a long time, far longer than most Internet users would think. When did it start? Where does it all come from? Where did the term spam come from? Let's take a look:

  • slide 2 of 4

    The Top Ten Spam Facts

    1. The First Documented Network Spam

    The first documented network spam was sent in 1978 by Gary Thuerk. It was an ad describing the availability of a new Digital Equipment Corporation computer. The ad was sent to 393 ARPANET members.1

    2. Is Spam Illegal In the US?

    Well, yes and no. The United States did pass the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in 2004.

    3. How Much Does Spam Cost Us?

    The California legislature listed the costs of spam in the California Business and Professions Code. The figures they found suggest that spam cost U.S. businesses and organizations over $13 billion in 2007 (estimated).2 Ferris puts the costs even higher, estimating that spam costs U.S. businesses $42 billion and businesses worldwide $130 billion.3

    4. Spammers Are Often Criminals

    Robert Alan Soloway was arrested in 2007 in the U.S and charged with 35 crimes. Many of the crimes were not directly spam-related.4

    5. Is Spam Legal Anywhere?

    Bulgaria is the first country to legalize spam.

    6. The Origin of the Term "Spam" for Unwanted Electronic Messages

    Spam as a term for unwanted messages is thought to come from a famous sketch on the comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus". Acronyms for spam are believed to be false etymologies.

    7. The Word "Spam" Is in the Dictionary

    The New Oxford Dictionary of English added the definition: "Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users" for spam in 1998.

    8. Where Does the Most Spam Come From?

    A study in 2007 determined that the country with the largest amount of spam sent in the world was the USA.

    9. Spam Pre-dates the Internet

    Spam predates computers. Western Union formerly permitted sending of telegraphs to multiple recipients.

    10. The Manufacturer of SPAM Luncheon Meat Doesn't Mind

    SPAM in all caps is the trademark of Hormel Foods Corporation, and refers to their meat product.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Closing Thoughts

    I hope that these facts about spam have been fascinating and informative for you. Check out my other articles about spam including "What Is Spam?" to learn about it and for help in combatting it.