We now know the NSA collects hundreds of thousands of address books and contact lists from e-mail services and instant messaging clients per day. Thanks to this information, the NSA is capable of building a map of a target's online relationships. However, the NSA's data-collection activities are so resource-intensive, the agency can't complete its new server farms fast enough. But when it does, a significant share of what gets held on those servers could wind up being worthless spam. Full story >>
This cartoon by Chappatte from The International New York Times shows one of the NSA's server farms. A general tells a lowly private, "We've collected all the world's emails - now you sort out the spam!"
Spam is unsollicited, usually commercial, e-mail sent to a large number of email addresses. Note that the word spam is uncountable so you can't use it in the plural or talk about 'a spam' (you'd have to say 'spam emails' or a 'spam message'). • Gmail has wrongly identified as spam the legitimate password-reset email being sent to all Adobe customers following a recent security breach. Spam is also a verb. • Back in 2011, Facebook was spammed by vicious pornographic images. A person who sends spam is a spammer.
Spam was originally (and still is) a tinned meat product made mainly from spiced ham (geddit?).The Internet sense appears to derive from a sketch by the British ‘Monty Python’ comedy group, set in a cafe in which every item on the menu includes spam.