Cell Phone Spam Grows Rapidly

Staff Reporter
Daily Helmsman
University of Memphis

Many University of Memphis students have grown accustomed to combating spam in their electronic inboxes with software to help block the junk e-mails.

However, there is a new annoyance attached with the growing popularity of instant messaging, cell phone spam also known as spim.

Spim, which is a combination of spam and instant messaging abbreviation IM, is becoming more commonplace for some cell phone subscribers. The term spim was coined by Eric Zorn, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

Earnest Wilson, a U of M freshman computer and electronic engineering major, gets many unsolicited messages a day.

“I’ll read it, see what it is about,” he said. “Most times it is about nothing.”

There are no definitive ways to prevent spim, but there are precautions.

“We tell people there are no certain ways to control it,” said Craig Ostrow, area manager for Cellular Renewal, a cell phone retail store. He is a former U of M student.

“The only (way to) limit the amount of spim you get is to be careful when you give your cell phone number or e-mail address.”

Another way marketers get your information is by exploiting the directories of users many IM systems have, randomly choosing people to send spim to.

Marketers follow the rules of the Can-Spam Act of 2003.

“The Can-Spam Act requests that you clearly state that you are a solicitor,” Ostrow said. Ashley Cockrell, an undecided sophomore, said she felt like unsolicited messages were a waste of money and there should be another law concerning spim.

“Some people have to pay to get text messages,” she said.

“There should be a law saying that people who have to pay to message shouldn’t receive junk mail.”

Unlike Wilson, Cockrell does not get a large number of junk messages.

“I only get them once a month or so,” she said.

While there is software available to help curtail the problem, it is only available for smart phones.

“The software is similar to computer software,” Ostrow said. “There is not software for regular phones yet.”

He also said more awareness is the only way to combat spim.

“Other than that there is no real way to tell spim from a regular message,” he said.

“You have to be aware of who sends you info.”