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July 20, 2021

The reason for all that spam and junk mail

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Some things in this world are beyond me.

Like, how did no one watch The Wire? Why hasn’t XM radio developed one of those Pardon the Interruption-esque ‘What’s on next’ playlist line-up things yet? And how did Tom Watson’s bladder not explode in about 500 pieces on the back nine during any round of this weekend’s British Open?

But no matter what’s floating around in my rudimentary mind, everyone – and I mean, everyone – wonders how exactly there can be so much spam and junk mail on this earth.

I get more Chinese food menus in my real-life mailbox than I do male enhancement offers in my email inbox which, frankly, is saying quite a bit.

And I’d like to think everybody’s together on this one. No one likes junk mail and no one pays two seconds of mind to email spam and pop-ups. So why the hell does this stuff keep getting produced?

Well, it appears that’s because not everyone’s on the same team, after all. Why is spam around, asks the Consumerist? Because, according to the website, 12% of readers actually “try to buy the stuff.”

Something called the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) conducted a survey of about 800 computer users in the U.S. and Canada to find out just how people deal with spam, and the results are a bit disheartening.

A little more than 50% of respondents said they clicked on spam for a variety of reasons (like to contact the company), but if you comb through the MAAWG’s report, you’ll find that 12% admitted to checking out junk mail because they were “interested in (the) product/service.”

The report actually goes a bit deeper to investigate what makes a spam seeker tick. You can see which age groups are most inclined to perpetuate junk mail by showing an interest, and seniors (65+) are high up on the list. If you’ve ever seen an old widow trip over herself to send $19.95 plus S&H to some TV evangelist for a vial of holy water and Jesus vitamins, this hasn’t exactly rocked your world.

Regardless, the point still remains. Spam only exists because we’re the ones making it a viable enterprise. Can we all, please, agree to stop clicking on the junk?

(Feel free to respond with a snarky “Too late, I just read this blog post” jab in the comments here. It’s okay, go ahead. I won’t be hurt. You’ll never get a better set-up than this, anyway.)



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...