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As internet firms are doing all they can to combat junk e-mail, a new form of virtual irritation is emerging.
Close-up of keyboard
Instant messaging is quick and easy to use
Called "spim", it is similar in design to spam.
But instead of attacking your inbox, it works through instant messaging (IM) services.
It is thought that "spimmers" have developed the idea because of the attention-grabbing nature of IM, and the increasingly effective spam filters that specialist companies have developed.