Report

Email Users Get More Spam, But The Harmful Impact Of Unsolicited Messages Is Diminishing For Them

A year after the CAN-SPAM Act became law, email users say they are receiving slightly more spam than before, but they are minding it less. More than half of Internet users still consider spam to be a big problem, yet the ill effects of spam on email habits and the overall internet experience have declined, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Compared to a year ago, fewer email users now say that spam is undermining their trust in email, eroding their email use, or making life online unpleasant or annoying. These findings suggest that at least for now, the worst case scenario – that spam will seriously degrade or even destroy email – is not happening, and that users are settling in to a level of discomfort with spam that is tolerable to them.

Users also report that their greatest spam irritant, pornographic email, has declined. On the other hand, 35% of email users now report they have received unsolicited email requesting personal financial information, a spamming technique known as “phishing.”

These are the general findings of a nationwide phone survey of 1, 421 internet users by the Pew Internet & American Life Project between January 13 and February 9, 2005. The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus three points. Here are some of the statistical highlights:

  • 52% of Internet users consider spam a big problem.
  • 28% of users with a personal email account say they are getting more spam than a year ago, while 22% say they are getting less.
  • 21% of users with a work email account say they are getting more spam than a year ago, while 16% say they are getting less.
  • 53% of email users say spam has made them less trusting of email, compared to 62% a year ago.
  • 22% of email users say that spam has reduced their overall use of email, compared to 29% a year ago.
  • 67% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying, compared to 77% a year ago.
  • 63% of email users say they have received porn spam, compared to 71% who said that a year ago.
  • 35% of email users say they have received unsolicited email requesting personal financial information.