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Does Getting Porn Spam Mean You’ve Been Surfing Porn Sites?

How they do and don’t relate.

OMG! Porn Spam!

Porn spam doesn't mean anyone did anything illicit. Everyone gets spam, and some of it is porn. Lack of spam doesn't imply you've been good, either.
Question: Why does my sister’s email get hit with xxx-rated “chat ads”? Mine doesn’t ever… would you have had to visit a site of that type or signed up etc. to be getting those kind of ads?


To the relief of those whose partners have wondered, asked, or even accused along those same lines, the answer is an unequivocal no.

Getting porn spam does not mean you’ve been visiting porn. Period.

The opposite is also true: not getting porn spam doesn’t imply you haven’t been surfing porn.

Porn spam and visiting porn sites are unrelated to one another. I’ll explain why that is.

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Porn spam versus porn sites

Websites and email are completely unrelated. Visiting a website does not give them the ability to send you email, spam or otherwise. If you explicitly give a website your email address for any reason, then of course they can email you. Everyone eventually gets spam, regardless of what sites they visit, and it’s extremely common for some of that spam to be pornographic in nature. It implies nothing about your online behavior.

Websites and email are unrelated

When you visit a website — any website — the site gets a certain amount of information about you, but not your email address.

They can’t send you email if they don’t have your email address.

For example, you don’t need to provide your email address to view what’s on Ask Leo!. You can view all the pages you want and I’ll have no idea who you are.1 I couldn’t email you if I wanted to. (And I do want to, which is why I ask you to sign up for my newsletter. More on that in a moment.)

The same is true for porn sites or any other website. There’s no way for them to email you, unless …

you give them your email address.

Handing over your email address

Of course, you may choose to do exactly that.

For example, you might sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll send it to you once a week. I’m sure the porn industry has similar products — newsletters, subscription sites, discussion forums — each requiring an email address to gain access.

And yes, once you give them your email address, they will probably start sending you email. Some may even send what you’d consider to be porn spam.

Even worse, they might also give your email address to someone else, who will also start sending you email. (For the record, I do not.) And some or all of that might look like spam, including more porn spam.

But just surfing websites — and doing so with appropriate anti-malware precautions and common sense — doesn’t give them the information to email you at all.

If you haven’t provided your information, they have no way to know who you are.

How you get porn spam

Simply having an email address is enough to start getting spam.

Eventually, that’s likely to include scams, phishing attempts, ads for body-enhancement drugs, weight loss products, and, yes, porn.

Most people get spam. Some get more than others, but most do.

At some point, your email address made it onto a list of email addresses used by a spammer. That list may have been sold to another spammer, and another, and another, and another, until your email address appears on several spammers’ lists. Some of those might be drug spammers, some who send phishing attempts, and others who want to help you increase the size of certain body parts.

And some send porn spam.

But none of it is related to where you’ve been or what you’ve looked at online.

It’s more related to how visible your email address has been, and whether or not you’ve responded (accidentally or otherwise) to spam in the past by clicking on a link or replying. Once spammers realize an email address is valid and reaches a real person, they send even more spam in your direction.

So, no: if you, your spouse, child, partner, friend, employee, or whoever starts getting porn spam, it doesn’t mean anything.

It certainly doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been surfing porn.

But like I said, the fact that someone doesn’t get porn spam doesn’t mean that they’ve not been surfing porn, either. The two are simply unrelated.

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Footnotes & References

1: Unless, of course, you log in, which identifies you.

1 thought on “Does Getting Porn Spam Mean You’ve Been Surfing Porn Sites?”

  1. I’ve closed comments on this article because the majority are answered in the article itself. Please read the article, and apply it to your situation.

    In a nutshell: unless you explicitly give a website (or a related website) your email address, spam, email and website visits are unrelated to one another.

Comments are closed.