Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a Reminder: Protect Your Friends with BCC

I just got a cute mailing from my sister that showed some really wonderful pictures of what farm kids could do with hay bales. I'm glad I got it, just like I appreciate the mass mailings from my other sister and my grand niece and a few buddies here and there. I do worry a little, however, about all those other people who got the same mailing.

Now, if you have 6 people in your mailing list and they all show up together at your Christmas party, then you probably can just ignore this blog. Send your pictures however you want. But if you have dozens, or like me, hundreds of people in your address book, then sending an email addressed To: everyone can be a bad idea.

The problem that worries me is that everybody's email address is right there for everyone else to see. And if just one of those people happens to forward you cute email on to more people, people you don't know, then the chances are that you've just given your friends' and relatives' email addresses to a spammer.

The solution is pretty easy. Most email programs allow you to address your email three ways, with To: and with CC: and with BCC:

CC stands for Carbon Copy, named in the dark ages when people made duplicate documents by typing on two sheets of paper at once with a piece of carbon paper between them to make the ink images on the second sheet. Usually, you address the email with To to the main person and with CC to someone else who should also see it.

BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy, and it sends the email to everyone on that list, but hides the actual email addresses from everyone else. The person will get the email as usual, but it will appear to be addressed to Undisclosed Recipients.

Using BCC will still get your email out to everyone, but the person who receives it won't see all the other people, and their email addresses. When they forward it on (and if it's cute, they will), then your friends' and relatives' email addresses will be protected from the spammers.

It's simple, and I know most of you know this already, but some don't. Personally, it's too late for me anyway. I've been trying to be famous and my email has been out there for the spammers to find for many, many years, and they have. So it's okay to forward my address, but many people would appreciate your care to protect their privacy. Okay?

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