What is SPAM Worth?

A recent New York Times articles notes:

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world’s largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered

On AOL, for example, [paid messages] will go straight to users’ main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gantlet of spam filters that could divert them to a junk-mail folder or strip them of images and Web links.

When I first heard of this move a while back, it sounded like something that would decrease SPAM. Make SPAMMERS pay and the benefit goes away. Now, it appears that there is a real incentive for paying, as the reward is avoiding SPAM filters! Sounds like a direct line to consumers is being offered at a quarter of a penny each. The folks at MoveOn.org are weary of this move, pleading:

AOL, don’t auction off preferential access to people’s inboxes to giant emailers, while leaving people’s friends, families, and favorite causes wondering if their emails are being delivered at all. The Internet is a force for democracy and economic innovation only because it is open to all Internet users equally—we must not let it become an unlevel playing field.

Agree with them? There’s a petition going around.

Image via Christer.

Kandace Brigleb

Producer, co-founder of Needmore. Currently residing on the left coast.