I get a lot of weird forwards from my dad. I can’t complain because often enough they are really funny and make my day a bit brighter. Unfortunately, when he forwards emails he tends to forward to not only family members but also his personal friends. This is okay if everyone is close and keeps in touch, however it can also lead to problems.
Last week I had received an email from my dads friend who began to ask me about a computer problem he was having. I had never spoken to this individual before, I don’t know him because I have never seen him in my life. Turns out he is a friend of my fathers from Europe. I had no issue addressing his question but it did frustrate me that he came directly to me and by-passed my father. In the past, most of his friends asked if I could help, and he would in turn just ask me. Ask for permission and help will be provided. Simple rule.
My father is a prime example of how information can be accidentally forwarded with no mal-intent for it to be used in a harmful way. I don’t blame him at all, he just hasn’t been educated properly, which had began my thought process of wondering how many more are out there that do the same thing.
Not all of us are tech savvy and many of us don’t realize that there is etiquette that goes along with such simple tasks as forwarding an email. Unlike in the middle ages, when etiquette and behaviour dictated what class of person you were, today, many of us simply ignore it. When this reflects however on passing on personal information that does not belong to ourselves, we need to be more stringent.
When forwarding an email it is customary to remove information about previous recipients. This is typically how spammers get a hold of a different email accounts because we neglect to remove the information from the chains. Before you forward, remove all unnecessary info. That includes everything in the body of the current email, the Fwd from the Subject line and anything else you think is useless and does not add to the context.
Doing this helps protect the recipients from the initial email from their information being forwarded off to the new recipients and also de-clutters the email. Next, when adding multiple recipients to the new chain it is customary to just add everyone to the TO field. This is not wrong if and only when everyone knows each other and they already have each others email addresses. However, often we forward emails to individuals who don’t know each other and it is our responsibility to protect their personal information from others.
We can still forward an attachment or email, but instead of using the TO field, use the BCC field. What this does is forwards a copy of the email to everyone listed but no one can see any one else’s email. BCC means blind carbon copy. Unlike carbon copy (CC), blind carbon copying someone means that no one aside from the individual who originally sent the email, will know that the individuals also has received a the email. This sometimes is used in businesses if we are trying to address an issue but we don’t want the other individual to know that we’ve copied their boss in the email. As an example. Of course you still need to put an address into the TO field. I always recommend just sending the email to yourself. Allows you to continue to protect your friends email addresses.
Remember, when ever emailing multiple individuals, think about how they would feel about their email being used in conjunction with another individuals. Will their email being visible cause any issues for them. Do they actively ensure that their private information is hidden. Do they like their info shared or not. Those little steps will go a long way in your personal relationship and encourage continuous trust.