Fri August 10, 2012 4:13pm
Are you immune to being bombarded with spam emails asking if you're interested in a penis enlargement or losing weight fast?
Do you sometimes wonder how anyone could make any money out these annoying messages?
Though the emails may seem like a minor irritant, with 94 billion spam messages sent daily, it all adds up - and it's costing society around $20 billion, The Atlantic reports.
Two researchers at Microsoft and Google, Justin Rao and David Reiley, teamed up to estimate the cost of spam to society relative to its worldwide revenues.
The cost to society, their report The Economics of Spam says, is $20 billion and the revenue adds up to just $200 million.
As they note, "spammers are dumping a lot on society and reaping fairly little in return."
The researchers went one step further, likening the scourge of spam emails to air pollution and car theft.
Car exhaust fumes and spam email produce what economists call negative externalities, a spillover cost of a transaction that others in society have to pay, The Huffington Post says.
So why are spam emails costing so much?
As The Huffington Post points out, the figure of $20 billion is derived from the cost of developing the software required to filter out spam emails and the few seconds it takes to delete every spam email that isn't successfully blocked.
Consumers are also affected in other ways- with engineers at Google, Yahoo and other email providers tied up fighting spam, they have less time to build fun, new features, The Huffington Post says.