Articles by Reesa Marchetti

Reesa Marchetti, Editor, Writer, Web DeveloperCyber-stupidity invades the Internet

©1994 Today's Sunbeam
by Reesa Marchetti

When the Internet first became the talk of the town a while back, a lot of people were worried about children being accosted by online perverts and bombarded by cyber-sex.

But after becoming an experienced Netsurfer, I've reached the conclusion that the main thing both adults and children have to worry about on the Net is not cyber-porn, but cyber-stupidity.

Here are some examples of the subject matter I recently found in my Email: "Make money fast," "No $$$ if you don't want free money," "The Internet Gold Mine" and "Invest only $5 and earn thousands by working at home." Chain mail has met the electronic age, and it's cyber-annoying!

When I was a youngun', in order to send a chain letter, you had to copy it by hand five times, put a stamp on five envelopes and mail them. Now you can spread one all over the Internet with a few clicks of a mouse.

But the content of these letters hasn't changed over the years. Today's e-mail chain letters still sound like the ones that might have been passed to you when you were in third grade. Here are some excerpts from a typical piece of junk e-mail that I received recently:

Write your name and address on five separate pieces of paper along with the words, "Please add me to your mailing list." In this way, you're not just sending a dollar to someone; you're paying for a legitimate service. Fold a $1 bill inside each paper, and mail them by standard U. S. Mail to the following five addresses ... Now remove the top name from the list, and move the other names up. Put your name in as the fifth one on the list.

Post the article to at least 200 newsgroups. There are 17,000 newsgroups, so try posting to as many as you can. The more groups you post to, the more people will see your article and send you cash!

You are now in business for yourself, and should start seeing returns within 7 to 14 days! The Internet is new and huge. There is no way you can lose.

So where are we heading with the proliferation of junk postings on Internet newsgroups? Newsgroups are discussion groups in which people with similar interests correspond. But now someone who is, let's say, seeking legitimate employment in the "Help Wanted" group also gets solicited by pyramid schemers.

One major Internet service provider became involved in a lawsuit after it banned a "spammer" - one who sends "spam" or unwanted bulk Email on the Internet. This seems fair to me. If you want to be removed from bulk mailing lists with the U.S. Postal Service, you can fill out a form and be relatively junk-mail-free.

But how junk mail can be patrolled in cyber-space is another matter. And I wonder, more importantly, why people continue to believe in these schemes-whether they're advertised on the Net, in the back of a magazine, in classified ads or by word of mouth.

If you do, Friend, you've been spammed!