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May 31, 2007

Naive Media At It Again

The antispam world was abuzz yesterday with the announcement that Robert Soloway had been arrested in Seattle. There is no question that he is responsible for a lot of unsolicited automated email messages. Some have even slipped through my spam filters to reach my inbox (the messages had a forged From: field bearing an address on my whitelist).

What really gets my goat, however, is the inference that because Soloway is currently being held in jail, the spam volume reaching our servers and PCs will drop today—as if taking one "spam king" out of circulation will make a big difference. An Associated Press story run in USA Today indicates that prosecutors suggested this connection:

A 27-year-old man described as one of the world's most prolific spammers was arrested Wednesday, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.

I also just heard a CNN Headline News reader tell the world that spam will drop today.

Are you freakin' insane?

I don't care how big a spammer Soloway allegedly is; his contribution to the 70 billion spam messages per day (Ironport) can't be so big that we'll even notice the absence. Additionally, there is no way of knowing how much of his process is automated and already in the hopper waiting to spew. Also, he was taken into custody before 8:00am PDT yesterday. Spam volume here yesterday was (alas) quite normal.

These sensational headlines and tag lines give everyday folks the incorrect impression that spam is now under control, and email life will be all puppies and kittens from here on. We would need about three dozen simultaneous arrests like this around the world before our inboxes would even notice.

Posted on May 31, 2007 at 10:40 AM