I have to admit, I enjoy the reports that come out of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. They generally have something interesting to say about how people are feeling about technology. The latest from the organization is a survey that shows that Americans are getting more spam, but they're getting... well, getting kind of used to it, apparently.
Over the years, spam has been an increasing negative force, but it was particularly big news last year. What with the CAN-SPAM Act, rivals like Time Warner's
Some of the aforementioned heavy hitters in the Internet space (and then some) might breathe a sigh of relief -- at least judging by the headlines out there, which paint what is likely a sunnier outlook than is warranted. Because of course, surely it's a good sign that consumers are becoming a little less beleaguered by spam, right?
That's all fine and good, but there are tons of variables at work. Increasingly aggressive spam filtering (and I know some of us routinely worry that if we use a certain word or subject line, no matter how innocently or contextually accurate, our email communications are in danger of getting scooped into such a filter) may be helping, perhaps the CAN-SPAM Act is working after all, or maybe the nine-year sentence recently accorded to a spammer is a bit of a deterrent.
Still, the improved stats don't change the fact that more than half of people say that spam has undermined their trust of email, and 67% of people say spam makes their online experience "unpleasant or annoying."
Maybe a little relief is in order for consumers this time around, of course, when you consider what was going on this time last year: The Internet was feeling like a fairly dangerous (or at the very least, irritating) place, with threats like the Bagle virus helping speed momentum for people to take action, such as switching to the Firefox browser.
So, it's not yet time for the big-name ISPs and email providers to get comfy. Spam continues to be a big, bulky pain, and when it comes to scams like phishing, it's downright dangerous. The Pew report polled a mere 1,421 Internet users. While it may give some implication of public sentiment, it seems clear there are still plenty of people out there who feel anything but blase about the contents of their email inboxes -- and more than willing to go with the companies that keep those inboxes the cleanest.
Commiserate with others about the load of junk you get in your email inbox every day on our Viruses, Hoaxes & Spam, Oh My! board, only on Fool.com.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.