Spam may very well make for the strangest technology bedfellows, and Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online unit is the latest Internet heavyweight that's building up its spam-fighting capabilities. Yesterday, it came to light that AOL will acquire the aptly named Mailblocks, a step toward ensuring that "You've Got Mail" doesn't really mean "You've Got Spam."

Data show that people are feeling increasingly harassed by junk email -- to the point where it's degrading the Internet experience. According to a report released in May by Pew Internet & American Life, spam is making the Internet and email feel less trustworthy to many users.

It's likely that, to some degree, you can all understand the dread. I know I hate the word-salad spams, the occasionally well-spelled subject lines that make me question whether it's real communication or should go straight to the trash, and the out-of-the-blue adult-oriented spam that has the audacity to claim it's sent in adherence to the CAN-SPAM Act.

Companies such as AOL stand a lot to lose from such a shift in attitude, as email turns ugly. Truly, people's hatred of the worthless junk in their email inboxes could prove to be almost as virulent as viruses themselves. Not to mention, we already know that AOL needs to stave off user defections.

Although AOL already provides antivirus protection from McAfee (NYSE:MFE), as well as spam-filtering capabilities (AOL's site boasts it blocks a billion spams a day), it has a lot to lose from any inference that it's falling down on the job. It's likely that the gates need even more tightening.

It's no secret that many of the Internet and email providers, including Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN, and Google tout spam-filtering capabilities as another value add of their services. Meanwhile, antivirus and security firm Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) recently acquired Brightmail, another spam-fighting firm.

Some investors might worry that Time Warner's on an acquisition binge as it tries to save its AOL unit from some other strong industry trends, such as rapid adoption of broadband. (Fool contributor Tom Taulli recently took a look at the company's purchase of Though terms of the Mailblocks deal were not disclosed, if the spam fighter's product is worth its salt (on its website the company promises it "completely eliminates spam"), then this seems an important investment in the ISP's goal to keep its community trustworthy -- and intact.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Two years ago, she shut down her Earthlink (NASDAQ:ELNK) email address because of spam inundation, but spammers have since found her new home address.