I say this with love in my heart, but no matter how painful, I must say it:
If we are to stop e-mail spam in our lifetime, our mothers must be prevented from using e-mail.
Admit it. You have dozens of cute bunny pictures on your computer. Your mother sent every one of them. And the pictures of kittens saying stuff like "I can haz cheezburger?" It's not your fault. You haz a mudder. And she sends you spam.
This mom spam...this spom...it's worse than regular spam. Gmail and Outlook can stop regular e-mail spam by blocking future e-mails sent from a spamming account. But spom circumvents normal spam defenses because it's sent by someone you trust. It's sent by your mom. And for some reason, she hates you. Why else would she send this:
"Please forward this e-mail. Every time someone forwards this e-mail, Microsoft will donate $1.00 toward little Maria's urgently needed heart transplant."
Every single person on the Internet knows that e-mails like the one above are fake. Except your mom.
And my mom. My mother is literally half blind and needs help doing anything except the most rudimentary things on her computer. But if she gets a fake spam e-mail about a missing 13 year-old girl who can only be found if everyone circulates her picture on the Internet, my mother suddenly becomes Sandra Bullock in "The Net". Suddenly, she can e-mail every single person on her contact list without any help and, if she wants to, take down the "grid" - whatever that is.
"People who did not forward this picture to at least five people died mysteriously...."
How do we stop spom? As I mentioned, we can't block our mothers' e-mail addresses. We'd have to start phoning them again. And no one wants that, not even our mothers.
So, what can we do to make our grown mothers think twice before sending us e-mail? What can we do to make their fingers hesitate before clicking "send" on anything but the most urgent e-mails?
Spam our mothers back. We'll send them ten e-mails every day. And we'll begin every e-mail like this:
"Dear Mom, we need a babysitter this weekend..."