Spam messages are increasingly plaguing e-mail inboxes, but more Americans are accepting them as a fact of life, a new study finds.
Thirty-seven percent of U.S. e-mail users say they are getting more junk in their personal e-mail accounts, and 29 percent see an increase in their work accounts. About half say they have not noticed a change, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said in its study, released Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 28 percent of Internet users now say that spam is not a problem at all, up from 16 percent in June 2003.
"It's maybe starting to become part of life online," said Susannah Fox, associate director with Pew. "Once something's part of life online, people feel that they should just stop complaining about it and move on, even though people are still annoyed by it."
Pew said that spam with pornography — the type users are most likely to complain about — appears to be dropping in relation to pitches for drugs and financial opportunities as well as scams for sensitive data like passwords.
People have also gotten smarter about blocking spam with software filters and using techniques for making their e-mail addresses more difficult for spammers to find. The study did not ask whether the junk messages people were getting more of were in spam folders or regular inboxes.
The telephone survey of 1,492 U.S. adult Internet users, conducted Feb. 15 to March 7, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.