Email Users Learning to Live with Spam

May 24, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Email | Privacy & Security | Retail & E-Commerce

Spam remains the bane of the internet, but US email users are apparently less bothered by it even as they report the highest volume of spam ever – perhaps because they have grown more sophisticated in dealing with it – according to a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Some key findings from Pew’s report:

  • Some 37% of email users surveyed said spam had increased in their personal email accounts, compared with 28% who said so two years ago, and 24% three years ago
  • 29% of those who have a work email account said spam had increased in those accounts, compared with 21% two years ago and 18% three years ago.
  • Only 18%, however, say spam is a big problem, compared with 25% in June 2003.
  • Nearly 3 of 10 (28%) say spam is not a problem, up from 16% four years ago
  • Half (51%) say spam is annoying but not a big problem, compared with 57% in 2003.
  • Those with both work and personal accounts are more annoyed with spam than those with only one type of account.


The volume of most offensive of spam – porn – has decreased, and users are becoming more sophisticated about handling spam, according to Pew: 

  • Three times more respondents said porn spam bothered them more than any other kind of spam.
  • Half (52%) of email users report receiving pornographic spam, compared with 63% two years ago and 71% three years ago.
  • Fewer women (46%) than men (58%) say they received porn spam.
  • About two-thirds (68%) say they only rarely open a spam message because they didn’t realize it was spam; 27% say they do so sometimes; 5% say they do so often.
  • Only 4% of email users said they have ordered a product or service from spam email, compared with 6% in 2005, 5% in 2004, and 7% in 2003.
  • Some 71% say they use email providers’ or employers’ spam filters, up from 65% two years ago; 41% say they apply their own filters, up from 33% two years ago.
  • About half (51%) say they check spam folders at least once in a while – and 46% say they hardly ever or never check them.


Despite the increase in spam, more than ever internet users rely on email, Pew said:

  • Nine of 10 internet users say they use email, same as four years ago.
  • Only 19% of users say spam has reduced their overall email use, compared with 22% in 2005, 29% in 2004, and 25% in 2003.
  • However, more than half question the integrity of email as a result of spam: 55% say spam has made them less trusting of email, compared with 53% in 2005 and 52% in 2003.

The new findings are from a phone survey conducted between February 15 and March 7, 2007, among a nationally representative sample of 2,200 American adults. 1,405 of the respondents were email users. The margin of error on this group is +/- 3 percentage points.


Explore More Articles.

Marketing Charts Logo

Stay on the cutting edge of marketing.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This