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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 12:02 GMT
US workers spared junk e-mails
Woman working on a laptop
US workers are largely unbothered by spam
Spam is not overwhelming the inboxes of US workers, despite the growing number of junk e-mails promoting get-rich-quick scams or pornographic websites, says a report.

Researchers at the US-based Pew Internet think-tank found that the majority of Americans enjoy a spam-free inbox at work.

Instead junk e-mails seem to be more of a problem for personal accounts, with the average American receiving more than 2,200 a year, according to recent figures.

The study contradicts research by experts such as e-mail filtering firm, MessageLabs, which says that some stateside firms find that up to 90% of daily e-mail is unsolicited junk.

Coping with e-mail

Spam has been a growing problem both in the US and in Europe but it is generally perceived that the problem is worse in the America

E-mail facts
71% say little of work e-mail is spam
73% spend an hour or less daily on e-mail
59% say e-mail improves team work
22% receive more than 50 e-mails per day
71% see e-mail as a mixed blessing
But the Pew Internet research found junk e-mails were only a small proportion of work messages for most US workers.

The majority of spam is filtered out before it reaches the inboxes of staff, the survey found.

"We began this survey expecting to find the beginning of a backlash against e-mail, not just spam, but also against the rising volume of all kinds of e-mail," said Pew Internet Senior Research Fellow Deborah Fallows.

"Instead, we found that most American workers are pleased with the role e-mail plays in their job, and we found almost zero evidence of disillusionment."

Aggressive spam

MessageLabs, which regularly scans US business e-mail for spam expressed surprised at the report.

"Our statistics paint a very different picture," said a MessageLabs spokesperson.

"Spam is increasing rapidly and aggressively and more than one in six US business e-mails is now spam," he said.

He added that the problem has been getting worse in the US as cash-strapped internet service providers allowed spammers to use their servers.

It is also often assumed that Americans, as the most wired nation in the world, are drowning in e-mail.

This is also a myth, the Pew Internet report found.

Manageable e-mail

The large majority of America's 57 million work e-mailers say that their experience with e-mail is manageable.

Around 60% receive 10 or fewer messages on an average day, with nearly half saying that the volume of mail they receive has stayed the same over the past year.

Only 22% receive more than 50 e-mails a day.

Over half rate e-mail as essential to their work and most agree that e-mail is effective for both the simplest of tasks and for more complicated projects.

For sensitive issues, most still prefer traditional communication with fewer than 6% using e-mail to deal with workplace problems.

E-mail plays an important part in keeping workers communicating with each other. Almost three-quarters say it helps them communicate with more people, although a third say that e-mail makes them too accessible.

Despite technology allowing workers to be connected to their e-mail accounts when they are out of the office, few take advantage of it.

Just 15% say they check e-mail before work, at weekends or while on holiday.

American workers also do not seem to be misusing their e-mail accounts. Around 75% say that only a little of the e-mail they receive or send at work is personal.

See also:

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