and frequently outsource parts of their operations to countries where spamming will not get them into legal trouble.
Increasingly, e-mail spam today is sent via "zombie networks", networks of virus- or worm-infected personal computers in homes and offices around the globe.
The first known electronic chain letter, titled Make Money Fast, was released in 1988.
Email spam, also known as unsolicited bulk email (UBE), junk mail, or unsolicited commercial email (UCE), is the practice of sending unwanted email messages, frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients.
Spam in email started to become a problem when the Internet was opened up to the general public in the mid-1990s.
It grew exponentially over the following years, and today composes some 80 to 85 percent of all the e-mail in the World, by a "conservative estimate".
Pressure to make email spam illegal has been successful in some jurisdictions, but less so in others.
Messages that were crossposted to too many newsgroups at once – as opposed to those that were posted too frequently – were called velveeta (after a cheese product). In the late 19th Century Western Union allowed telegraphic messages on its network to be sent to multiple destinations.