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How did this innocent HTML email wind up in my spam folder? Let's explore spam: the email version. Before 1978, spam was a bland canned meat sold during World War II. With the growth of the Internet in the early 1990s, unsolicited emails started to skyrocket and became known as spam. What is email spam, and how does it affect the emails we've sent? Let's explore answers to both these questions. Email spam is obvious. You didn't request the email and often enough, responding to the email exposes you to fraud and theft.
It's unlikely the email saying you've inherited a million dollars is actually true. Email spam is big business. Enough people click and buy products that warrant the minor expense spammers need to create and send the emails to hundreds of millions of people. Hackers send spam by enslaving thousands of private computers, perhaps even your computer. These enslaved computer are called botnets, and they're used to send millions of spam emails. People like you who send legitimate emails have to worry about being labeled as spammers.
The best way to avoid this fate, don't do what spammers do. Here are common ways spammers reveal themselves in their emails. For example, they send HTML email alone with no plain text version, or they include images in the email that tell spammers your email account is real and active, or they'll send links with odd URLs that you can tell are clearly false. And here are all the possible layers your email must go through to arrive at an email address.
With a better idea of spam and how it works, let's look again at my innocent email. Do you notice a few things that might have triggered as spam filter? Words like free, win, prize all got out email trapped in a spam filter. Spam is both a burden and an opportunity. As we will see, many of the solutions to spam involve working more closely with people who receive your emails. In this chapter, I'll show you how not to be labeled as a spammer.
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