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Spam From Friends? WHY?!

Jeff from Green Bay writes  “What’s with all the spam I get from my friends? I get the same subject line from several people, especially people I have never contacted on my regular email, only on Facebook. Is facebook leaking this out?”

Well, Jeff, the first thing that I would like to reassure you of is that this junk is not really coming from your friends.  I use the term “junk” because I actually LIKE the canned, meat-like product called Spam.  What these things actually come from are irritating little computer programs called “spam-bots”.  What the creators of these pests do is they send them out to a group of e-mail addresses, all created by computer (similar to the way that an auto-dialer creates phone numbers).  Then, when one of the poor victims opens the thing, it executes the spam-bot, which then takes over the contact list for that address and sends itself to everyone in the contact list, starting with the first one and going down.  Then it repeats and repeats and repeats this process, which is why you receive several with the same subject line. 

The safest way to avoid this is, of course, don’t open any e-mails that have a subject line that don’t sound like something that your friend would send.  For instance, I received an IM from my friend Tami one time that said “I finally got those naughty pics done.  😉  Click here to see them” followed by a URL.  This didn’t sound like her AT ALL, so I closed the chat window and opened a new one asking her if it actually was her.  It wasn’t, of course. 

A way for you to stop these things in their tracks is to create an e-mail address in your contacts list, something like “AAAA@AAAA.COM”.  Since this e-mail address doesn’t really exist, it’ll get a bad e-mail address error and stop. 

On a personal note, I can’t figure out how these things still exist.  Do people really still respond to e-mails from Nigerian Princes saying that if the recipient sends their Social Security number they’ll get a zillion dollars?

Hope that this helps.

~ Randal Schaffer