Just because there are new channels with which you can communicate with a mass audience, it does not give you the right to spam them.
You don’t need to know the legalities regarding what is considered spam and what is not. It’s pretty simple: sending someone a commercial message when you do not have their permission to do so is spam. It’s a message they did not ask for or request. If we’re talking about individuals who are simply trying to connect to one another, there is nothing wrong with asking for permission (this is why Facebook allows you to decide if you would like to accept someone as a friend, and it is the same reason why individuals are able attach a message to their friend request).
We needed laws because Marketers screwed it up.
Not all Marketers screwed it up. It was just a couple of rotten apples that spoiled the bunch. It’s also going to be a few new rotten apples that are going to spoil the newer channels as we all try to make heads or tails of what is fair, acceptable and respectable in these many new ways to connect. The truth is you don’t need someone to make rules (or laws) if everyone is always treating one another with mutual respect (be it their information or permission to connect).
The problem is spamming is easy.
Spam exists because for the millions of people it annoys, it does convert – at some level – to make it a cost effective way to make money and market (as scary as that sounds). It’s even easier for those who are pushing it close to the limits of spam to say, "well, there are no rules or laws yet, so let the people decide." Fair enough. No one can argue with that logic, but isn’t it easier to ask, "is this the way I would like people to communicate with me?"
The good news is that as some of these newer channels are gaining mass attention and popularity (see Twitter), individuals can decide whose messages they want to receive and can even unsubscribe from those who are teetering on the brink of spam.
The lesson is simple:
Use your personal power in these channels to unsubscribe to anyone and everyone who you feel is spamming you. If they’re not providing value and adding to you – and your community – remove them. No matter how popular they are and no matter how many people follow them, remove them.
A smart Marketer knows how to connect and build relationships in these online channels. Should you really be wasting your time and energy following those who are abusive to your time and attention (or bordering on it)?