Internet For Assholes
This week: Spamming for Assholes
Published October 6, 1999 in Whoa!

Remember Me?
You did it!
What do you think?
Are you there?
Please tell me why

Curious, aren't you? Who wouldn't click through after reading those email subject lines? Fake identities and throwaway accounts are already being fully deployed by the Internet's most pernicious tribe of assholes: Spammers. Those subject lines were, of course, from unsolicited commercial, mostly untraceable, and certainly unanswerable, email. Face it -- in the pseudonym wars, you're already hopelessly outflanked.

See also...
... by Lou Cabron
... in the Whoa! section
... from October 6, 1999

Don't get mad; get even. There's a bunch of helpful online organizations dedicated to permanently disconnecting spammers from the Net. If you're serious about fighting back, check into these organizations:

Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email

Spam Recycling Center

You can even contact the Federal Trade Commission online!

Spam is seriously unpopular. It even has those technophobes in Congress worried. It's your duty as a Netizen to get those bastards shut down. But, what if, like Lou, you'd rather take matters into your own hands? There's always that good ol'-fashioned, all-American institution: vigilante justice.

If you can find the source of the email, spam 'em right back! Go ahead, click on that link pitching HOT TEEN NYMPHOS HORNY FOR YOU!!! Somewhere on the site there's probably an email address. And if not, you can always look up the domain's registration info. Once you know who's been bothering you, you can mailbomb 'em. Don't forget to fake your return address!

Go ahead, just like heroin, it will make you feel great right away -- just don't think about the long-term consequences. Besides, to conquer your enemy you must become your enemy.

Now that you've decided to send email to anonymous strangers, you'll find that a fake identity is only half the battle. Next you've got to think up some way to get people to read your stupid message... Watching spammers operate is the ultimate lesson in being an asshole.

Spammers reveal that questions are a subtler come-on than the "Cum See The Hottest Gay Guys On The Net!" spam readers typically receive. Sure enough, a quick scan of spam subject lines soon shows their popularity as an attention-seeking tactic. "How does dinner sound?" "Can we talk tonight?" "You have a very big..."

Misleading subject lines are a great start. One particularly asshole-ish spammer sent hundreds of users an email message with the subject line "You were rude to me!" But the text of the message began "How do you like your Breasts? Big, Small, Large, Extra Large, OUTRAGEOUS!!!" Er, how was I rude, though? I wondered. But the spammy non-sequitur simply continued. "How do you like your thighs?" It ended with a hyperlink, of course. Like its hundreds of recipients, I quickly moved on to the next message.

A recent email bore the subject line "Are we related?" which was apparently from my cousin "Harddog456," a forgotten relative who had tracked me down to say "ADULTS ONLY. Do You Think You've Seen It All? TRY THIS!" Hey, wait a minute... You're not related to me! We don't talk that way in my family. And if you are a relative -- you're definitely out of my will (although if you're a "HOT SEXY CUM-SOAKED SLUT," maybe we can find a private moment at the next reunion).

Ultimately, it's always the same tired roster of come-ons, whether it's masquerading as a misdirected email from Sissy to Ma about a great investment opportunity or just announcing bluntly: "Here Are The Naked PICs Of Me That You Wanted." (How did they know?) Today's lesson: Beware of geeks bearing GIFs. Anonymous strangers who contact you about lust-provoking pictures are usually only after one thing: your credit card number. But a new crop of assholes simply forgoes the finesse, sending emails that read: "Please enter your credit card number. Um, I work here." Or variations on that theme. And it works -- if you send the email to enough users.

The Village Voice reported a "nationwide network of teenage ... hackers" would use credit card information from AOL accounts to order refrigerators for their enemies. "I don't know anything about this," the recipients would tell the credit-card fraud investigators who'd inevitably turn up later. But you have to admit "someone must've sent this refrigerator to me as a prank" is a pretty implausible excuse...

In a parody, Mad Magazine suggested that AOL's president dismisses concerns about hackers like Kevin Mitnick by pointing out: "My subscribers' card numbers are accessible to someone far more dangerous than him! ME!!"

Sure enough, dozens of AOL subscribers have reported they couldn't get AOL to cancel their account. In fact, the $7-an-hour flunky answering the phone gets paid not to cancel your account. That's right, there's actually a bounty paid if they succeed in dissuading you from leaving.

Like to avoid all that by canceling online? You can't. AOL de-activated that feature years ago -- because, as AOL's Vice President of Member Services told The Wall Street Journal, too many people were using it to cancel their accounts online.

Think of AOL as a roach motel. You can check in, but you can't check out.

There's no moral here. If someone's stupid enough to give you their password -- or credit card number -- you can fuck with them. Duh.

I think it might be, like, illegal, or something. The junior high school students I talked to in the chat room weren't sure.

But don't worry. The courts tend to go easier on juvenile delinquents, so if you're a teenager, you're immune.

Until you get co-opted by The Man, like your parents were.

See also:
Disposable Identities for Assholes
Anonymity for Assholes
Stalking for Assholes
Religion for Assholes
Death for Assholes
eBay for Assholes
Portals and Personal Ads for Assholes
Newsgroups for Assholes

Lou Cabron is GettingIt's resident asshole.