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Net users learn to live with spam

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The poll of US net users by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 52% of people complain that junk mail is a big problem.

The research found that 28% of users are getting more spam than they did a year ago.

Despite this, the numbers of people saying that the deluge of spam made them use e-mail less has shrunk.

This led Deborah Fallows, the researcher behind the study, to conclude that spam is becoming like air pollution and traffic congestion.

"They are just learning to live with it," she said.

Last year the Pew Internet project found that 29% of people were using e-mail less because spam was such a problem.

This year only 22% of people said they were sending fewer messages because of spam.

According to the research also down was the number of those who said spam made being online unpleasant. Last year 77% of said spam made net life annoying. This year the figure was 67%.

At the same time many e-mail users, 53%, said spam made them trust e-mail less. By contrast 12 months ago 62% said their trust in e-mail was being eroded by junk.

This is despite the fact that 28% of people say their inbox is being battered with more spam than ever. Last year 22% of people said the volume of spam they were getting was rising.

Ms Fallows said the figures revealed by the research also meant that predictions about people abandoning e-mail entirely because of spam were unlikely to come true.

This could be because some methods of fighting spam were having an effect.

As evidence Pew pointed to the difference between reports from users who are seeing modest rises in the junk they get and anti-spam firms which are seeing up to 80% more spam than they did a year ago.

"This suggests that for whatever reason - better filters, more filters, better spam avoidance behaviour by users - not much of that additional spam is making it to the inboxes of users," said the report.

The types of spam that people received had changed too.

Pornographic spam is being replaced by phishing attempts that try to trick people into handing over financial details.


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