I just got an email from a family member warning me of a “HUGE VIRUS COMMING”. This particular email includes a link to snopes.com (one of the popular email debunking websites – my favorite is truthorfiction.com). The email claims that “this is for real” and you can read it for yourself at “snopes.com”. I’ve also gotten emails claiming that Bill Gates is testing a new email tracking program and if I forward the email to all of my friends, I will receive a huge check. We’ve all gotten the occasional joke email with the note at the bottom, “forward to 10 friends in 10 mins or ELSE…” – cue ominous music, DUN DUN DUUUUNNNN.
I alway find these email to be funny (in the strange funny not the haha funny way). A few years ago there was an email virus called the “I love you” virus – I was working in IT when it hit the company I worked for because the CEO double clicked a script in his email and sent the entire company directory a note saying “I love you”. Within about 10 mins our entire email infrastructure was taken down from the mass emails running through the company! “I love you” was a real virus that did real damage – it didn’t delete files or erase hard drives – it just emailed everyone in your contact list. It cost our company thousands of dollars in clean up efforts and downtime. Since then, email clients like Microsoft’s Outlook block those type of attachments and antivirus programs look for those type of patterns in email – but what has happened since then cannot be blocked by outlook or fixed by antivirus programs…
We now voluntarily do the work of the virus – we forward emails to everyone in our address book warning them of a ‘new’ virus. Ok – Here are a few email etiquette rules and guidelines that I think we could all benefit from:
- Use the BCC option to protect peoples email. When you do email everyone in your address book, don’t put them in the To Field or even the CC field… Use the BCC field. First, I don’t want to scroll past 200 names to get to the joke – most of the time I give up before I get there. Second, I don’t want everyone of your email buddies that I have never met to add me to their address book so that I get the same jokes, chain letters, and sad stories three, four, even five times.
- Never forward a virus warning – EVER! By the time you get the warning email, its already too late if the virus is real – hackers and virus writers don’t announce their plans in advance. Once we know the virus exist, its already released and your safest course of action is to simply have an updated antivirus client.
- Never forward an ’email tracking promotion’ – EVER! Even if such an email tracking program existed, no one is going to give you money to test it – AND would you want someone tracking your email? This includes money from Microsoft, clothes from The Gap, and any other “I promise, I just got my first check for 1billion dollars just for forwarding this email to you!” emails. Why is it no one you personally know has ever gotten a check? And why didn’t you email everone back a week later and update them that you never got a check and they shouldn’t send it on since its a hoax???
- Don’t forward jokes that take more than two minutes to read – There is no joke on the planet worth reading a twenty minute five thousand word email — none!
- Don’t forward boycott emails. We all know the oil companies are taking us for all we are worth… but not buying gas on Tuesdays or staying away from Company A isn’t going to fix it – for everyone of you staying away from the pumps on Tuesday, there are an equal amount of people whose email said Wednesday – so in the true spirit of the boycott, they filled up on Tuesday, just as you did on Wednesday. By the way – if Disney does have a pro-homosexual agenda and you don’t like that, then just don’t buy their videos or watch the Disney channel, or ABC. The last time I got an email telling me not to buy the latest Disney video only served to remind me that the new video was out and if I wanted a copy I should head out to another evil giant, Walmart and pick it up before they sell out.
- Don’t forward sad stories about people whose dying wish was to live on through an email chain that goes around the world. If anyone actually had that as their dying wish, then their life must have been much worse then the disease that finally ended it.
- Don’t forward prayer requests for people you don’t know! If you personally know someone in need, by all means – email everyone in your address book, and when you get updates and praise reports for that person, email the updates, but don’t forward every prayer request you get for people you don’t personally know – maybe I’m cynical here, but I’m guessing most of your friends didn’t say any meaningful prayer for a person that may or may not still be in need that knows someone that knows someone that know you. My guess, you didn’t either.
- When an email with a Faith-based story that warms the heart has a warning that ‘bad things’ will happen if you don’t forward it – Delete it! If you think the story is just too good to not pass on, then its probably too good to be true – but if you must, at least take off the antichrist like curse off the bottom before you do.
- NEVER EVER believe an email that quotes snopes.com in the email. Most of the time, the link in the email goes to the snopes.com article that tells you its a hoax – the rest of the time, its a link to a hackers website that when you click it, you just confirmed your email with. I prefer truthorfiction.com, but either one, snopes.com or truthorfiction.com are great resources if you just want to know if the email is true. You shouldn’t forward a message (other than funny jokes) that you don’t check there first.
- Lastly – give people an option to be removed from your junk email list! Don’t be offended if they email you and say “stop sending me junk” or “I just checked snopes, and this is a hoax”. This is just common courtesy.
Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong or if you completely agree but think I left something off – add it to the list…