The history of digital spam

Emilio Ferrara
2019 Communications of the ACM  
Spam!: that's what Lorrie Faith Cranor and Brian LaMacchia exclaimed in the title of a popular call-to-action article that appeared twenty years ago on Communications of the ACM. And yet, despite the tremendous efforts of the research community over the last two decades to mitigate this problem, the sense of urgency remains unchanged, as emerging technologies have brought new dangerous forms of digital spam under the spotlight. Furthermore, when spam is carried out with the intent to deceive or
more » ... influence at scale, it can alter the very fabric of society and our behavior. In this article, I will briefly review the history of digital spam: starting from its quintessential incarnation, spam emails, to modern-days forms of spam affecting the Web and social media, the survey will close by depicting future risks associated with spam and abuse of new technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (e.g., Digital Humans). After providing a taxonomy of spam, and its most popular applications emerged throughout the last two decades, I will review technological and regulatory approaches proposed in the literature, and suggest some possible solutions to tackle this ubiquitous digital epidemic moving forward.
doi:10.1145/3299768 fatcat:ht45pgouvfhjnaka2uxqv4nahm