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Yahoo launches first antispam day

Web surfers are urged to dump junk mail as Yahoo kicks off the first global antispam day, its effort to raise the profile of the worldwide spam problem.

Web surfers are urged to dump junk mail as Yahoo kicks off the first global antispam day.

Thursday marks the company's first global antispam day--dubbed "Dump the Junk Day"--which is being promoted by Yahoo in the hope of further raising the profile of the worldwide problem. It also marks the launch of a series of global events and campaigns against spam.

Several of Yahoo's European Web sites, as well as its Australian site, are promoting the day.

Estimates suggest spam--or unsolicited bulk e-mail--costs businesses roughly $8.18 billion per year in lost hours and wasted resources. More than 40 percent of all e-mail traffic is now made up of spam, and some industry experts have expressed concerns that the levels may get so high that e-mail becomes unusable as a communications tool.

And the message appears to be filtering through. Stephen Timms, U.K. e-commerce minister, has thrown his weight behind the campaign. "Nobody wants an in-box full of irrelevant e-mails, but unfortunately spam is a growing problem the world over," Timms said in a statement.

"Not only is spam a nuisance but it is also eroding people's trust in using e-mail. We want consumers to benefit from the advantages of electronic communications without being bombarded with next-generation junk mail," Timms added.

Among the goals of "Dump the Junk Day" is educating people. Research released by Yahoo revealed, for example, that 56 percent of U.K. e-mail users are perpetuating the spread of junk mail by replying to it and thus clarifying that their e-mail address, which is generally targeted at random, is indeed valid and in use. It is a mistake guaranteed to attract even more unwanted mail.

Silicon.com's Will Sturgeon reported from London.