Imagine you’re buried beneath an avalanche of pork and ham, mixed together in a gelatinous conglomeration of pink, stinky goo. You know, spam. But maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe it’s already happened to you.
Spam buries email users every day.
This may not be your problem if you live in Canada or Europe. Those havens have strong anti-spam laws that require your consent before you can be buried in that meaty mess.
But in the U.S.A. it’s a little different. We’re constantly wiping this goopy filth off of us, every time we check our email. America is a spammer’s heaven, and an email user’s hell. It’s the age of Spamalot on this side of the pond.
But the good new is, we have rights. And these rights can help us greatly reduce our spam intake. In 2003, the CAN-SPAM act was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush. CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing.
Many critics call it the YOU-CAN-SPAM Act, because it doesn’t stop those sick bastard spammers from spamming us. It only gives us rights to limit the spamming. You see, in Canada and Europe you have to opt-in to receive spam. But in America, you must opt-out.
Check out the bottom of any advertising email you receive. The CAN-SPAM Act requires every such email to have an “unsubscribe” link, or equivalent. Click on that link, and it should take you to a website that allows you to unsubscribe from receiving any more email from that particular spammer. Just follow the instructions for unsubscribing.
But be careful. Sometimes the instructions get tricky, and could even deceive you into subscribing for more spam. So read the instructions with a cynical eye for detail.
After you unsubscribe, the spammers have 10 days to take you off their mailing list. And they can’t sell your email address anymore, to other spammers.
I filter my spam, but sometimes a legitimate email gets caught in that filter. Trying to locate it can be like looking for a needle in a stack of sticky, gooey meat-mix. So I decided enough was enough, and I rolled up my sleeves and got tough on spam.
I spent about a half-hour groping through all the spam I had received over the course of one day. The pink, slimy substance was getting all over my fingers, arms, and pants. But I persevered, and unsubscribed from just about every damned gobbet of mystery meat in my bulging spam box.
The next day, much to my surprise, a lot of spam had disappeared. Rather than 40 or 50 spams, I only had about 10 or 15. It appears most spammers are good at taking you off their lists immediately. But some seem to take full advantage of the 10-day grace period.
Now the spam has slowed to a tiny trickle of dripping ooze. The CAN-SPAM Act does seem to work, but only if we, the spammed, do our work and take the time to unsubscribe.
So if you want to dig out from under a giant, suffocating pile of spam, look for the link to unsubscribe, near the bottom of your emails, and go on an anti-spamming tear.
But when you’re finished, be sure to take a shower. That shit is nasty stuff.
Here’s a typical unsubscribe link at the bottom of a spam message from Consumer Reports. Yes even Consumer Reports, an organization dedicated to protecting consumers, spams consumers!