Article

Christie Fidura
Christie Fidura 16 September 2015

Are We To Blame For Spam?

At Social Media Week London 2015, I learned that it was my own fault that I receive spam (unwanted emails, not the potted meat stuff).

In a session titled ‘What’s Yours is Mine – Content in the 21st Century’

at Social Media Week London 2015, I learned that it was my own fault that I receive spam (unwanted emails, not the potted meat stuff).

 

I’m sorry, what?

 

The panelists began by talking about the rise in importance of user-generated content, because branded content ‘comes with a trust issue.’ They posited that if a brand generates the content, it’s not perceived to be as trustworthy as information from a friend. They pointed to user reviews as their main point of reference here.

 

The conversation then moved to the point that specific targeting means that the right content is getting to the right person at the right time – the Holy Grail of content marketers everywhere.

 

And then there was a great disturbance in The Force, almost as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced…. Because one of the panelists said this:

 

’10 years ago, we were happy to give away our email addresses. Consumers were lazy and gave them away for free and are just now starting to really understand the consequences of their actions. Every spam message you receive is your own fault.’

 

The ‘lazy’ part may be a bit harsh but he really did have a point which shook me to the core.

 

I then recalled that the brilliant Information Professional Kathy Ennis mentioned the same at the Digital Spring Conference in London in early 2015, but she was a bit more kind about it.

 

‘Your email address is a gift. Don’t give it away lightly,’ she said.

 

So, all the criticism I give to the sender when I receive spam rests solely on my shoulders. I should respect the value of my information and care for it with the appropriate respect it deserves. When I don’t, and it ends up in the hands of a nefarious character, I only have myself to blame.

 

While still reeling from this, the panelists hit me with another fact: we’re now in The Information Collection Age, and its path of its progress has changed what we’re comfortable with sharing. First, we shared our names, and then our email addresses. As these lost value, the next items down the chain became disposable as well: behaviours, interests and communications. We’re now starting to share our health statistics via mobile tracking apps; how much further is it before we share financial data?

 

I am confounded by how far we’ve come, how little we value our private data, and how much we’re willing to give away for free. I’m going to be thinking about this a lot more in the future, and I’ll be remembering that old J. Paul Getty quotation to help me:

 

‘If you look after the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves.’


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