Why better spam filters mean more spam

Are you fed up with the amount of spam e-mails that you receive? If you could have a spam filter that accurately blocked a higher percentage of spam then you would want it.

But more accurate spam filters are not necessarily a good thing. As with all game theory we shouldn’t just think about the impact the change has for us, we also need to think about how it might change the behavior of the person sending the spam.

E-mails are very cheap to send so there is little cost to the spammer if they send more. If you improve the accuracy of your filter then the obvious response for the spammer is just to send more spam so they get the same number of messages through your filter.

Better spam filters actually just encourage more spam.

Today’s takeaway: Remember to consider other people’s reactions to your actions. It might mean you don’t get the benefit you think you will.

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