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BBC in international spam shock scandal

Last week saw the plausible 30th anniversary of the creation of email spam, an event marked by the arrival in journos' inboxes of large numbers of unrequested press releases from security companies.These even reached the BBC, which decided to run a story over the bank holiday weekend -- traditionally a good time for soft news --on BBC World.
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Written by Rupert Goodwins on

Last week saw the plausible 30th anniversary of the creation of email spam, an event marked by the arrival in journos' inboxes of large numbers of unrequested press releases from security companies.

These even reached the BBC, which decided to run a story over the bank holiday weekend -- traditionally a good time for soft news --on BBC World. They rang around the usual suspects: I was up in Edinburgh devoting my attention to single malts, the sisterhood and medieval plainchant (sounds better than wine, women and song), and so Aunty picked on my brother in North London media tarthood, Adrian Mars.

Adrian represents the finest in media punterhood; not only does he know what he's talking about and is more comfortable in front of a camera than Richard and Judy's sofa, he has a sense of humour that would make Sid James blush and a sense of shame so small that it's discussed at nanotechnology conferences.

Parked on set and transmitting live to the world, the man was asked why spammers keep going for the same old stiffening pills and willy embiggenment scams. He could not resist: "It's a formula that works, and since most men are insecure about the size of their parts... Of course some of us don't need to worry."

At this, he erected one eyebrow and the presenter giggled like a schoolgirl.

So far, so good: BBC happy at a nice soft story, Adrian cock-a-hoop at slipping it in, and world not quite sure it just saw what it thought it saw.

And it turns out that this was one enlargement spam that worked - albeit for the man's ego rather than his privy member. A couple of days later, he got this email from an old flame, now working as a journalist in one of the world's high profile trouble-spots. (The location and identity of his correspondent have been disguised to protect him or her from the authorities - yes, really. And I wish I could be more specific about gender, just to finally put to rest those persistent rumours about Adrian's sexuality, but you understand. Lives are at stake.)

"So, there I was in XXXX (being an intrepid fighter for freedom and democracy, albeit one with access to BBC world) when who should pop up but you, talking about the size of your parts. Bizarre.

Hope you are well.

XX

PS I don't think you have anything to worry about..."

The man is now unbearable, and it is only with the greatest self-restraint that I eschew giving you further information on this subject. Me, I think he just misheard the BBC's motto: "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation". Eric Gill would have approved.

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