Poll: Spam Annoyance Leveling Off

While Internet users are broadly in favor of legislation outlawing “mass spamming,” more people are accepting spam as an everyday hassle, according to a new survey.

The Harris Poll, released on Thursday, found the percentage of Internet users saying spam is very annoying has dropped substantially since a similar poll taken in December.

Harris asked its sample how much of a problem it is to get unsolicited e-mail from people they do not know. The 93 percent who rated this as “very” or “somewhat” annoying was similar to the results from December, when 96 percent chose those options. However, only 64 percent of respondents characterized spam as “very” annoying, a large drop from the 80 percent recorded in December. Nearly a third of e-mailers (29 percent) settled for “somewhat annoying”. In the last poll, just 16 percent chose that.

The poll was a compilation of two surveys: one, taken in May, interviewed 3,400 adult Internet users; the other, taken in June, surveyed 655. The margin of error is about 5 percent.

Despite signs of an increasingly world-weary response to the deluge of spam, support for legislation outlawing spam grew from the previous Harris poll, from 74 percent to 79 percent. Harris asked respondents whether they favor or oppose legislation to outlaw commercial “unsolicited mass spamming.”

“This suggests that while people may have become more efficient at identifying and deleting spam, this has not in any way reduced their desire to eliminate or reduce it,” Harris concluded.

The broad public support for legislation has spurred Washington into action. No less than half a dozen spam bills are currently under consideration in Congress, with at least one measure expected passed by the end of the year.

On average, respondents said about 40 percent of the e-mail they receive per day is spam. Pornography remains the biggest annoyance, followed by mortgage and loan offers and pharmaceuticals. Interestingly, spam in some categories is not rated as that annoying. Fewer than half of respondents said spam for software and computer hardware annoyed them.

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