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Reporting Spam

written by: Matt Isaac•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/24/2011

Reporting spam can be both easy and effective. Learn simple steps to benefit your online experience.

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    These days you can't use any social networking, email, or messenger service without running into spam. These greedy, heartless and yet seemingly stupid advertisers will pay large sums of money to make sure your inboxes, comments, walls, etc are filled with messages of large members, "friends" recommending awesome new products and cheap prescription drugs from canada.

    Luckily there are a few easy ways to clear up your online space, and help put these killjoys in their place.

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    Spam Reporting Features

    Most popular social networking sites and email services have specific links for reporting spam. When you receive spam in your email inbox, mark it as spam. It not only transfers the message to your spam folder, but also uses the information included in the message(sender, domain, subject, message) to prevent future spam for both you and other users alike. When using your social networking account these links can be found in messages as well as comments, and flags the user as spreading spam. The moderators can then use this information to determine if the account was created for spam or has been hijacked from it's original owner. If the account is deemed to have been created for the sole use of spreading spam, the account is terminated. On the other hand, if the account is proven to have been hijacked, control may be returned to the original user. Use these links liberally as the more data we collect on the spammers the easier it will become to prevent their activities.

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    Contacting Administration

    If the site or service you are using does not have a convenient link to report spam, or you find that using the 'Report Spam' link is not living up to expectations, then the next best thing is to contact website administration. This is usually accomplished by navigating to the 'Contact', or 'Help' page. Once there you will be prompted to either email a specific address or fill out a short form detailing your issues. Provide as much information as possible to help administrators properly access your particular situation. Information, such as username, location of spam(provide specific link), and recurrence, will assist moderators in the fight to prevent spam. If the service you are using does indeed have a link to report spam, be very specific to admin when explaining why it is necessary for the break in normal procedure.

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    Web Hosting and Domain Name Registrars

    In some situations it may become apparent that the site or service you are using is directly connected with the spam you are receiving. Although it is the right of site owners to advertise to users, there are certain limits to these rights. All offers must be legitimate and your information may not be shared without your permission(sometimes this language will be in the user agreement, so make sure to read it). If a violation of these statutes occurs and you feel that your concerns are being deliberately ignored by the site administration then it is time to take a trip upstairs. When creating a website or online service, there are two main services used to provide content to the intended audience. These services are web hosting and domain name registrars. These are the big boys on the cyber-block, for when Jenny goes downtown to shop, they own all the land and they licensed all the store names. If a site's hosting server is shut down, all the content becomes unavailable. Similarly, if a site is not allowed to renew the lease on a domain name, then it will no longer link to the intended content. Both actions effectively cease the distribution of the unwanted spam. To find these details a user can use a simple, easily found whois search. A number of reliable websites offering whois searches can be found by entering the term into your favorite search engine.The results of a whois search will provide links to the hosting and registrar, company websites. From there you will be able to contact the company by phone or email and report sites in violation of host policies and international laws.

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    With the risk of sounding like a children's television program; if we all work together, we can solve this problem. We are a generation not only of internet users but also content providers. We upload information and media, custom design personal webpages, social networking profiles and blogs, and contact our friends and family. So, let's take some real ownership of our online experience and start bringing the fight back to the source. Stop merely erasing bad content and start preventing it though reporting.