Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » S »

spam

Spam is most often considered to be electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. Some people define spam even more generally as any unsolicited email. However, if a long-lost brother finds your email address and sends you a message, this could hardly be called spam, even though it is unsolicited. Real spam is generally email advertising for some product sent to a mailing list or newsgroup.

In addition to wasting people's time with unwanted e-mail, spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth. Consequently, there are many organizations, as well as individuals, who have taken it upon themselves to fight spam with a variety of techniques. But because the Internet is public, there is really little that can be done to prevent spam, just as it is impossible to prevent junk mail. However, some online services have instituted policies to prevent spammers from spamming their subscribers.

Why is it Called Spam?

There is some debate about the source of the term, but the generally accepted version is that it comes from the Monty Python song, "Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam". Like the song, spam is an endless repetition of worthless text. Another school of thought maintains that it comes from the computer group lab at the University of Southern California who gave it the name because it has many of the same characteristics as the lunch meat Spam:

The term spam can also be used to describe any "unwanted" email from a company or website -- typically at some point a user would have agreed to receive the email via subscription list opt-in -- a newer term called graymail is used to describe this particular type of spam.

Related Spam Articles

See also phishing, a type of email scam that is used to fraudulently obtain personal information or details of your online accounts.







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
DID YOU KNOW?
It's Happening Now: Perceptual Computing is Real

Perceptual computing is the ability for a computer to recognize what is going on around it. More specifically, the computer can perceive the... Read More »

Apple Pay Promises to Strengthen Payment Security

Experts believe that Apple Pay and other competitive payment systems will be far more secure than cards, even cards equipped with EMV chips. Read More »

The Great Data Storage Debate: Is Tape Dead?

Tape clearly is on the decline. But remember, legacy systems can hang for a shockingly long time. Read More »

QUICK REFERENCE
Network Fundamentals Study Guide

A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »

Computer Architecture Study Guide

This Webopedia  study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »

Webopedia Polls

The trend for the past two years has been for shoppers to spend more online during the holiday season. How do you typically shop for holiday... Read More »