Spam Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Spam, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Spam?

Commercial e-mail that is unsolicited and sent to multiple people.

History and Meaning of Spam

The term "spam" originally referred to a type of processed meat that was widely sold and consumed in the United States. In the early days of the internet, a group of internet users created a Monty Python-inspired skit that used the word "spam" repeatedly to refer to unwanted or excessive content. This inspired the use of the word "spam" to describe unsolicited commercial email that was sent in bulk to many recipients.

Today, spam is widely recognized as any unwanted, irrelevant, or unsolicited emails, often sent in large quantities over email, text messaging, or other communication channels. Spam is often used for fraudulent or malicious purposes, such as phishing scams or distributing malware, and can cause significant harm to individuals and businesses alike.

Examples of Spam

  1. "I received an email from an unknown sender advertising a weight-loss pill. That's clearly spam."
  2. "My phone keeps receiving texts from random numbers about winning a free vacation - those are spam messages."
  3. "My inbox is flooded with emails from a company I've never heard of, promoting their services. This is the worst spam I've ever encountered."

Legal Terms Similar to Spam

  1. Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) - A legal term used to describe any commercial email that is sent without the recipient's permission or consent.
  2. Phishing - A type of spam that attempts to trick recipients into providing personal or sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
  3. Malware - A type of software that is designed to harm computers or networks, often distributed via spam emails or other unsolicited messages.