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Spam filtering with social networks

19 February 2004 No Comment

This article outlines a new strategy for combating spam. P. Oscar Boykin and Vwani Roychowdhury of the University of California, Los Angeles came up with the idea of turning to social networks (life Friendster) to determine if the source of the e-mail that you are receiving is “friendly” (pun intended).

Yahoo is probably in a very good position to implement something like this. If you receive an e-mail from an address that is in your addressbook, then it will end up in your inbox. Let’s say that your have 100 people in your address book and 10 of those people are also yahoo users with 100 people in each of their address books. If I could tell Yahoo that I wanted to whitelist going 1-level deep, I would have a whitelist of 1000 people. If Yahoo allowed you to whitelist people going N-levels deep, your whitelist could be even more powerful.

I wonder how this would work with legitimate “non-social” e-mail such as coupon mailouts from Office Depot. What would be the model for a non-spamming company (or any entity for that matter) to participate in this system? I guess that somebody in the company would register as a user of the social network, and then people would associate with it. For example, on Friendster, I have my high-school listed as a friend.

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