Thursday, November 26, 2009

Spam spam spam

I read recently that over 90% of all e-mail in the world is spam. Despite this it's still the most popular means of written communication. I suppose the world's spam filters must be doing a good job otherwise we would have given up by now. However, even if the spam count is low many people feel engulfed by the sheer volume of non-spam e-mail. It's a long time since we actually enjoyed getting e-mail.

If e-mail has become passé then we get our pleasure in other services. I still think it's fun getting a comment on my blogs or someone mentioning me on Twitter (sad, I know). However there are signs that the spammers are taking over even there. There's a good post on James Clay's blog E-learning Stuff called Ten reasons why Twitter will eventually wither and die. He lists ten threats to Twitter mostly to do with spamming and sabotage which is already creeping in. The sheer openness of the service makes it extremely vulnerable to attack and if your identity gets used for spamming or worse you will of course stop using Twitter (or whatever other service). Similarly bloggers give up when their blog gets bombed by abusive spammers.

Could the openness of the social web be its ultimate downfall? The potential for constructive collaboration is enormous but also the potential for sabotage and trashing. How to we protect our net freedom without restricting it in some way?

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