You wouldn’t post your friends’ and relatives’ phone numbers for a bunch of strangers to see, so why do it with their email addresses?
My late friend Steve Robertson once remarked how so few people take care with their correspondents’ e-mail addresses. It’s not at all uncommon to get an e-mail with dozens of addresses attached, including your own, forwarded by a succession of people to all their friends.
Many folks, me included, don’t like having their e-mail address floating around the Internet for just anyone to find. Eventually, with all that forwarding, those headers are bound to end up some place they shouldn’t, or get harvested from someone’s computer by a trojan or worm. (The chances are good that if your correspondents don’t know about not publishing addresses, they don’t practice very good computer security, either.)
There is a simple way to avoid such indiscretions. Every e-mail client and Webmail program has the ability to blind copy (BCC) addresses. You may have to search for it a bit, but it’s there. Try the Help file, or just hit F1 while in your email program.
Here’s how you get rid of headers:
- Select and copy the item you want to send out, and paste it into a fresh e-mail. That removes all the addresses from “before.”
- Then click “BCC,” and insert the addresses you’re sending to in the BCC field. (Some programs require you to have an address in the regular To: field. If that’s the case, send it to yourself.)
Your message will go out to all the recipients, but without the list of addresses. Some programs won’t even show the address of the recipient. In any case, no one will receive anyone else’s address. You may have to consult the help file of your particular mail program to get the details of blind copying, but — trust me — the info is there if you’ll look.
Don’t forget to delete the lists that came with the original. No point in spreading them any further.
If you can’t be bothered to take this much trouble with your friends’, relatives’ and associates’ private information, the chances are about 99 out of a hundred that whatever you’re forwarding isn’t worth the effort either. Save their patience and just delete the whole thing. After the first few times, it doesn’t hurt a bit.