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"Opt-Out" Increases Spam
Those little buttons at the bottom of spam e-mail, telling you to click to opt out of having your time thieved by spammers? Don't click 'em.

StopScum.com has it here:

Spam Tricks: Don't click the opt-out (Remove Me) link or pay money for a do not Spam remove list

Spammers are clever con artist, scam kings, criminals, low life, and all of them belong in jail. In this installment we document a couple of procedures which guarantee that you will receive even more Spam and in other cases part with your hard earned money.

Just Trash the Spam: DO NOT opt-out

I'm sure you've seen the Spam selling pills, mortgages, porn, get rich schemes, etc. This junk often includes a link to remove your email address from the Spam list. This opt-out is a scam to verify your email address and rarely removes you from the list. What it does do is tell the Spammer that the email address works and a real life person is reading the email. If you do click the opt-out link the Spammer uses your address to not only send more Spam but sell it a zillion times to other Spammers. This will definitely increase the amount of Spam you receive so NEVER opt-out.

And here's a study that proves what StopScum contends above:

The efficacy of CAN-SPAM rests largely on its opt-out provisions. All commercial e-mails must offer recipients the opportunity to opt out of future e-mailings, either via e-mail or an Internet-based mechanism; e-mailers are required by law to honor these requests.

Did opting-out make a difference? Yes, it did. It attracted more spam. As Figure 2 illustrates, the opt-out addresses received 1,153 messages, while the comparison addresses received only 745 e-mails. The two groups showed little difference until week 11. When the amount of spam began to increase, so too did the gap between the Opt-Outs and the No Responses (see Figure 3). The persistent gap in Figure 3 demonstrates that CAN-SPAM’s opt-out provision has had the opposite of its intended effect.

Posted by aalkon at September 10, 2007 9:00 AM

Comments

All this time I thought I was just being lazy, turns out, I was being clever. Who knew?

Posted by: meshaliu at September 10, 2007 7:35 AM

A good post, Amy.

Posted by: Curtis at September 10, 2007 2:47 PM

It all depends on whether the spam is coming from a "reputable" company.

Not responding is a good default. However, if you are getting spam from a site that you remember giving your address or from a real company with which you do business, the opt outs are positive.

Otherwise, you have to go to the trouble of reading the mail, looking at IP addresses in the headers, finding out if the company is in the US, etc. Of course Achmed's midnight spam specialists in Turkey are not going to respect the can spam act. Although I would guess that they get a cynical chuckle out of it.

American companies with an aversion to bad publicity and class action suits do care, though.

Posted by: Shawn at September 10, 2007 3:34 PM

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