Pew Survey: Spam Hurts E-Mail Use

Spam makes Internet users trust e-mail less and degrades their online experience, a new survey finds.

According to the poll by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 52 percent of e-mail users said spam made them trust e-mail less. One in four respondents said spam reduced their e-mail use, and 70 percent found the Internet unpleasant as a result of spam.

Consumers also worry that spam hides e-mail they want to receive. A majority of respondents said unwanted e-mail in their personal accounts made it hard to locate wanted mail, and 30 percent feared filters might block important e-mail.

Pew based the findings on a nationwide poll taken of nearly 1,400 Internet users in June. The survey found 92 percent agreeing that spam is “unsolicited commercial e-mail from a sender you don't know.” But 65 percent said commercial e-mail from a sender with whom they have done business is not spam.

Pew found consumers taking spam mostly in stride, however. While 27 percent said spam is a “big problem,” 59 percent said it is “annoying, but not a big problem.” Moreover, Internet users younger than 30 were more accepting of spam: 32 percent said it is “just part of life on the Internet” versus only 18 percent of those older than 30.

Also, Pew found spam is peculiarly effective. Though the overwhelming amount of spam is ignored, the poll found 7 percent of respondents had bought something from an unsolicited commercial e-mail.

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