November 30, 2004 9:34 AM PST

Lycos Europe: 'Make love not spam'

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In a new take on fighting spam, Web portal Lycos Europe has launched a screensaver designed to bombard Web sites promoted in unsolicited e-mail.

The effort, dubbed "Make love not spam," will officially launch on Wednesday and will center around the screensaver, which the company has designed to overload Web sites advertised via spam. Lycos Europe is a separate company from the Web portal that bears the Lycos name in the United States. Lycos Europe claims that it currently maintains roughly 40 million e-mail accounts across eight European countries.

Under the plan, when a URL already listed on Lycos Europe's spam blacklist is mentioned in e-mail sent to someone using the screensaver, the tool automatically and repeatedly requests data from the site in question. The idea is that when a large number of the screensavers send requests to the same page at the same time, those sites' performance will suffer greatly.

A graphic on the Lycos Europe site advertises the ability of its customers to "annoy a spammer now!"

Lycos Europe contends that the technology will create logistical problems for spammers. While the company said it does not intend to disable any site completely, it believes that it can overload sites based on the volume of spam created to advertise them. The company said the screensaver system uses an automated "health check" feature to ensure that its data requests never render any site completely inoperable.

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