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  •  Political spam: here's what I learned this week (1+ / 0-)
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    One night, after spending hours here, I checked my gmail one more time before logging out.  There was a piece of political spam in my inbox from a guy/org I had never heard of.  Now, this is rare because gmail is pretty good at spam-filtering and I've been directing political emails to spam for a long time.  It was late, I was cranky, the sender's address looked like an actual person (not a 'info@' or something like that) so I zapped back an email saying:

    'How the fuck did you get my email?  Please respond.'

    Well, the guy responded, and in a very gentlemanly way.  Since I had just participated in a comment thread on a diary about 'why are we getting all these political emails, and why are they always asking for money?', I had a lot to say.  So in three long emails over the next 24 hours, I laid out for him my complaints, and the complaints I had seen others express here.

    He was a gentleman and and a scholar throughout, and here's what I learned from him:

    In 2010, I signed an online petition in support of a March On Washington.  The petition (and the March?) had its own organization-name, although it was put on by MoveOn.  "20+ groups" were coordinating with MoveOn, including the group the guy (I'll call him Sam) was involved with at that time.  All 20+ groups were given access to the resulting address database to use for their own purposes, which Sam described as "standard practice".

    Now, Sam's group has gone through at least two different iterations since 2010.  And I had been offline (due to poverty) for two long chunks of time in the last 18 months, and the first thing I did when I got online again was to mark all the political emails that had accrued  as spam.  So Sam's records showed that I had been receiving his emails without complaint for quite some time.

    Okay, long story, but just to provide context for one of the long emails I sent to Sam.  

    My head exploded over those 20+ groups, and I think yours should too.  Just ONE event, in 2010, resulted in unknown thousands of names/addresses appropriated by MoveOn and shared with TWENTY-PLUS GROUPS, each of which may have split and split again over the last 2-3 years.  And EACH of those groups following the 'standard practice' of assuming that, because someone signed a petition, that person was asking for or permitting ongoing emails from ALL of those groups.  And each of those groups (and possibly their offshoots) sending multiple mailings each year . . . the mind boggles.  

    And who's to say that somebody, somewhere, among all those groups didn't sell the list, or that somebody's computer didn't get hacked or invaded by an address-stealing virus?

    There are plenty of ways to get on spam lists.  And spam is 'unsolicited email' -- meaning that if you didn't actively and affirmatively request to receive emails from a group, any email you get from them is spam.

    Remember that comment thread I mentioned at the top of this comment?  I entered it when somebody raised the question of 'is it worthwhile to sign petitions or not'.  My comment was to the effect that I don't sign them any more because I don't see them as effective, and because the only visible result of one signature is getting a bunch of political spam from groups you'd never heard of.  I wrote that a day or so before finding Sam's email in my Inbox -- and Sam's email was in my Inbox because I signed another organization's petition in 2010.

    Use your spam filters.

    •  And check the privacy policies of sites you use. (1+ / 0-)
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      Especially before giving up any private information.

      And recognize that any site can probably be hacked, too.

      It can and does happen, quite regularly.

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