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Internet slang for unsolicited bulk email, primarily unsolicited commercial email (UCE). Recipients of spam often consider it an unwanted intrusion. Internet service providers (ISPs), such as America Online, consider spam to be a financial drain and an impediment to Internet access because it can clog available bandwidth. Spam has also been linked with fraudulent business schemes, chain letters, and offensive sexual and political messages. Not all bulk email is spam. Some is "permission-based" -- the recipient has volunteered to receive information from a company or website. This usually occurs when a website asks a user if he or she would like to receive email -- known as "opt-in email". Unlike spam, opt-in email usually provides a benefit, such as free information or sale prices for potentially useful products.

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