I remember when I first began hearing the term "spam" (as it has to do with computers and not the canned meat product). It was in 1993, when I spent time participating in Usenet groups. Random porn messages or get-rich-quick schemes would appear in the midst of parenting discussions, and eventually, many of us left the public forums for listservs, thinking we had escaped all that spam.
Seventeen years later, things haven't changed much. Spam is still there, going strong and infiltrating virtually everything we do online. And it still involves porn and bilking folks out of their money. Spam can be malicious. It can be annoying. It can also be destroying your company's brand.
An article on Denver Westword discussed a porn site that is sending out spam using famous chain stores as bait. Writer Patricia Calhoun said she got a note, littered with misspellings, telling her someone spotted her at a restaurant chain. She wrote:
The spam artist's typos were irresistible, so I followed the link to the next level, Crush Greetings, where I found this message (spelled much better than the original one): "This is difficult for me to do because I'm shy... but I have a crush on you. I've never been able to tell you for reasons which you would quickly identify as obvious if you knew who this was. With that said, I want you to guess who I am, and approach me yourself. To help you out with your guessing I made a few pictures and videos with 'Patricia' written on my body. They're kind of risque photos so I had to make a profile at Camfunonline.com and post them there...I'm shy and this is the bravest thing I've probably ever done, but you need to do the rest.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who will see the name of a trusted company and connect it negatively with the spam message. Brand-protection monitoring should be part of every security plan. As an article at CRMBuyer stated:
Beyond the spread of negative opinion, including false rumors about a brand, these threats can extend into the realm of brand infringement, information leaks and even illegal online distribution. Consider: Chatter about product packaging (e.g., a product manufactured in the United States has instructions printed in Mandarin) or even patterns in sentiment analysis (e.g., customers raving about unreasonably good deals from a specific e-commerce storefront) can reveal counterfeiting activities or the existence of an unauthorized reseller channel. Of course, the sooner these infractions are identified and acted upon, the better.