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  1. What Is
July 14, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:53pm

What is spam?

How a Monty Python sketch helped name one of the big internet phenomena.

By Alexander Sword

In a computer context, spam refers to unwanted and unsolicited messages sent via electronic means.

This can include email spam, with most email services coming equipped with a spam filter which automatically removes emails that look suspicious and redirects them into a specific spam folder. The user can then access this folder if necessary.

It can also include spam posted on other websites: for example, bots can be used to post spam into comments sections or forms on the website to boost exposure to unwilling viewers.

One way of solving the spam problem in this context is Captchas, which require a poster to authenticate themselves as a human.

Spam is named after the eponymous foodstuff, the brand of precooked pork that dates back to the 1930s. Spam was lampooned in a Monty Python sketch in the 1970s about a cafe serving only spam, which may have led to its adoption as a byword for something unpleasant and over-abundant.

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