Make Love, Not Spam

Don’t get mad with spammers. Get even (The Guardian)

Spammers may be about to get a taste of their own medicine. A British company is today launching software that it claims will allow computer users to hit back at the mass mailers who clog up our inboxes with sales pitches for pornography, get-rich-quick schemes and cheap medication.

Lycos UK is offering free screensavers designed to counter-attack the junk emailers by turning their own techniques against them. Entitled, somewhat confusingly, Make Love, Not Spam, the campaign aims to harness the coordinated power of under-occupied computers and bombard blacklisted sites with streams of email requests which will slow down targeted addresses and interfere with their business.

Similar methods have been used for scientific challenges which require enormous computing capacity, such as finding a cure for cancer or sifting through the data gathered by Seti, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.


Mr Van Rensburg said the plan was not to target the sites that send out spam, which are often hijacked computers, but to hit the sites that the spam benefits, many of them pornographic and based in eastern Europe. “If you want to call it vigilante action, so be it.” But Matt Sergeant, the chief anti-spam technologist at MessageLabs, said he did not approve of fighting network abuse with further network abuse. “It’s too difficult to get it exactly right,” he said. “The safeguards now in place are not too bad.”

The Make Love, Not Spam screensaver can be downloaded from


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Seeing as how Lycos has a particularly nasty bit of spyware that’s bitch to get off your computer, I can’t say I’m encouraged by this.

  2. Do they take routine precautions, such as forging the IP packets? I can think of fewer dumb things than hitting a spammer with messages that include your IP address.

    Oh, and people on the East coast (Virginia???) got criminal indictments this summer for doing this sort of thing.

  3. Nathan says:

    hmm. this is not a good sign because I have been using it, and it was working for a while, and then all of a sudden, it wouldn’t transmit data anymore. It just displayed “stay tuned”. I wonder if my IP has been blocked and logged. If I would have known that this could lead to any trouble, I would not have downloaded it.