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This article was published on May 12, 2010

When will Skype beat its huge spam problem?

When will Skype beat its huge spam problem?

It’s been a busy time for Skype as of late. Not only have they announced 5-way video chat to its communication service, they have also lowered call tariffs – a minimal $0.1 a minute for instance. The best thing? Skype (IM, video call, voice calling on the computer) is still free!

However, in exchange for keeping the service free, Skype may be adding advertsing. Which is fair enough, companies need to make revenue somehow (especially now Skype just lowered their call rates) and plenty of websites and software offer free versions with advertising successfully – think Spotify.

In an interview with The Telegraph, chief executive Josh Silverman said: “It’s challenging to get right as the way people use is Skype is very personal but we think our users expect us to do it so we can continue to support free. But it will be done in a tasteful way.”

Personally, I am more than happy to receive adverts through Skype, especially now Silverman has warned users it may be coming. However, my problem is the fact he does not mention/ realise that we already receive adverts on Skype, or should I say spam?

Ever logged onto your Skype account or left it running in the background, to be occasionally greeted with an obscure “advert” stating you have won the jackpot, your “bank” needs access to your account or even porn. Of course, simply closing the conversation and blocking the user is a quick short-term solution, but once weekly can get quite frustrating. Even more so if your account is set to block users not on your friend list to contact you without a friendship request.

Okay, so this may not be Skype’s fault entirely. Despite Skype’s Terms of Service regarding spammers, there will always be those that slip through the net. Though the Skype Community boards have various complaints about Skype spam, with users begging Skype to build a spam-blocker for the desktop client. In one thread, users are complaining that Skype ignores pleas when they email the abuse team. Which is a shame, considering Skype’s EULA is designed to protect those who are subject to offensive/ dangerous spam.

However, upon researching Skype’s EULA, section 3 mentions a particularly interesting clause:

3.2.2 You acknowledge and agree that You are solely responsible for any Content that You upload, submit, post, transmit or display through the Skype Software and/or the Skype Website -(“ Use” or “Used”) and that Skype is not responsible to You or any third party for any Content that is Used by You or any other Skype Software user.”

Interesting. This is a very carefully worded clause, that says to me that seeing as spammers appear in user accounts, if you get sent/ click on a third party link, it’s no longer Skype’s problem. Although this is technically quite fair if you click through to strange links (from spammers or otherwise), it isn’t really fair for those of us dealing with constant spam IMs.

To clarify, I spoke to a member of the support team regarding the above clause as well as how they suggest I deal with spammers.

Skype said: “We are deeply sorry to hear that you are having issues with unwanted contacts in Skype. Skype takes your privacy very seriously and for this reason we have built-in privacy settings that can protect you from unwanted calls and IMs.

We are doing our best to resolve this issue, however, implementing changes and creating new features can take some time. You can rest assured that we’re working hard behind the scenes to combat spam, and will take action against spammers where appropriate – with the objective of keeping Skype a productive and friendly place for users like you.”

They went on to explain how users can remove spammer IMs (the built-in privacy settings mentioned). Any explanation of the clause? Not at all. Therefore, still leaving me, the user, in the dark over certain clauses – either the team member I spoke to wasn’t sure herself (most likely) or I am in fact dot on the money, which is pretty disappointing.

So Skype, thanks for all your cool new changes and feel free to give place adverts on my client, but don’t you think you should deal with those sneaking in through the back door first? Maybe double check your Terms and Conditions too, as you stance on the matter isn’t very clear.

[Image credit: Engadget]