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Forwarding interesting or funny emails is nothing new. Since the dawn of this great medium, people have been reading something humourous or touching and have sent it off to there list of friends. However, when the email addresses contain your company’s name, it associates it with the content of the message.
Recently I received an adult themed joke/picture in my email box from someone I know. After opening it, it contained all the forwarded addresses up until it was sent to me, filled with “ />” and certain comments attached. After taking out all of the Yahoo or Hotmail addresses, as well as ISP’s, I came up with a list of 47 companies that were listed within the body of the email. The majority of them were large, multinational Corporations were perception of their brand is very important. There was a trail of who sent it out to whom, along with some nicknames people had given each other (i.e. Rob “The Tongue” from a large pharmaceutical corporation and Greg “Who’s Your Daddy” from a prominent Food Manufacturer).
Not only does this put your company in the wrong light and potentially harm your image, it also gives the chance for a spammer to harvest the addresses and sell them. I could have sold over 200 addresses within that one email.
How do you stop this from happening? Other than enforcing your business use only policy, you can also urge employees to use the “BCC” (Blind Carbon Copy) function when sending it out to multiple addresses. That way, each recipient only sees there own name and if forwarded, will not contain a distribution list.
Recently a friend of mine received an email from a large Newspaper, inquiring about his company, a large insurance firm, placing an ad in an upcoming feature. The email was sent out to multiple clients and everyone’s address was in the “To:” line for all to see. Not only do you run into the issue of a spammer using these, but since this was a group of clients, how much do you think it would be worth to this Newspapers competitor? The direct email to the buyer of ad space at large corporations.
A simple use of the BCC function cannot only save you face, but could very well save your job.