Today, like almost every day, I received an email that was highlighting the plight of the Swat residents who have lost their homes and more. The mail, like others of its ilk, also suggested one of the numerous agencies that were engaged in relief work as a possible organization to which I should donate funds.
Noble, no doubt. And who could ever fault the sentiment? But, nonetheless, I let off a silent scream …
Why? because the To: field contained the names and addresses of 32 people, including mine. And, as if that was not stupid (and dangerous) enough, the main body contained all the headers of the 17 other people who had Forwarded this. Totalling the list of people whose email addresses were now available in this one document, I reached the diabolical number of 666 (Hmmm!).
I am sure you, too, receive such stuff almost everyday:
Whether the body contains the occasional serious matter, such as today's email re Swat, or the usual, generally yechhh joke, there is - at the very least - the inconvenience and annoyance of having to scroll down a long, long document to get to the meat. And, in the largest number of cases, the end is a let-down, anyway.
Worse, the same mail has, in all probability, been received by you minutes earlier (or soon will be), forwarded by one of the people among those listed. Six Degrees of Separation
can be a pain!
Such inconveniences, I guess, one should not have to live with - and those who inflict this upon you are rarely worthy of being called 'friends'. However, the dangers that such idiocy by the 'forwarding friends' poses is not that easy to deal with.
What are the risks? For one, you can lay the blame for an increase in the SPAM that you now receive, directly or indirectly, on this brainlessness:
• Directly, because any one of the recipients can (and frequently do) add all the people in the email to his SPAM list and use it to sell you products, send you unfunny jokes, preach, or provoke. And if he, too, leaves the list exposed, there will be a multiplier effect.
• Indirectly, because many unscrupulous people scan such mails (manually and
through software) to gather all the email addresses and add to a database - which is then 'sold' to allow other unscrupulous buyers to use it for the puroses listed earlier.
For another, such lists are also used to 'track' large numbers of emails and mine data like Phone and Credit Card, Account Numbers, Passwords - that, despite warnings, some people do transmit.
Ok, so you receive a really important message, such as the Swat Relief thing that you feel MUST be circulated. What do you need to do?
1. Click the Forward button
2. From the body of the email remove ALL traces of previous 'forwards' and email addresses
3. Add your list of friends you wish to send this to in the Bcc:
On the off-chance that the mailing program you use does not send out email unless there is at least one address in the To:
field, add your own in that space. You will receive the email, too, of course, but consider the bright side: you'll know for a fact that your mail did
My mail program and the filter (SpamSieve
) are set to send all such emails to the Junk folder … one that I check every few days to see if something has been wrongly sent there. After 'training' the filter I have discovered only 3 mistakes in months. Good going, Apple Mail and SpamSieve!!!
While on the subject of Compulsive Forwarding, here are two old posts that you should take a peek at, when you find the time:
Labels: Activism, Bloggers, Media, Personal, Rant, Technology