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Hundreds of thousands of e-mails sent by EarthLink Inc. customers to America Online accounts were rejected and lost over a period spanning at least 10 days, EarthLink said Monday. An AOL spokesman said software designed to restrict junk e-mail, or spam, was to blame. After conferring Monday, the companies said the problem had been resolved. A spokesman said the problem was brought to EarthLink’s attention Wednesday after some of its customers complained that e-mail sent to AOL accounts was not reaching intended recipients — and no error message was returned. “Going backward, there is nothing to be done. The mail that was lost is lost,” Steve Dougherty said. “We think it’s in the hundreds of thousands but probably less than 1 million. It’s still a very large number.” AOL, based in Dulles, Va., declined to detail how many e-mails its software blocked or where they originated. Spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the problem was caused by anti-spam software that detects large amounts of mail from an account and then blocks material from that server. He declined to discuss how the system could be altered to discern spam from large, legitimate mailings. EarthLink said about 5 percent of its 10 million to 20 million daily e-mails go to AOL but that the problem affected only messages from the 60 percent of its customers with earthlink.net accounts. EarthLink also operates mindspring.com and onemain.com addresses, having purchased both companies. The Atlanta-based company has about 4.7 million customers, a distant second to AOL’s 27 million. AOL has been aggressive in recent years against junk e-mailers, pursuing lawsuits against more than three dozen parties to stop the unwanted mail from clogging users’ mailboxes. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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