I am the CC King of Spam!

Well, not really, but if folks keep sending me emails that have been forwarded 200 hundred times and packed with addresses in the CC (Carbon Copy or Courtesy Copy) field then I could quite easily be if I wanted.

I have no need to start scraping the internet for addresses all I have to do is sit back and wait for them to come to me. Yesterday, I received 9 different forwarded messages, and could have scraped more that 1300 addresses between the lot of them.

Here’s a quick tip folks. Every email client allows you to put addresses into the BCC, Blind Carbon Copy (wikipedia link) field. If you put the addresses you want to forward your email to in the BCC field other folks won’t be able to see who you emailed it to, and the folks you receive it won’t know who else you emailed it to.

This is also handy when you’re writing important emails and want somebody else to have a copy to , for security, else without the original recipient knowing that you simultaneously sent multiple copies or who you sent them to.

BCC is for protecting the privacy of others. When you forward an email to 20 people who’s only connection to each other is you, you’re putting their privacy in danger. They may not want me to have their email.

There’s also a good chance that their email address could end up in the hands of a spammer because you were a lazy sod and didn’t bother using the correct field (BCC instead of CC) when spamming your friends with the latest virus filled PST file.

But you, dear CC abusers, are not alone in the blame.

The developers of many (many – not all before the Open Source Advocates flame me) Open Source email clients don’t display the BCC field by default. It usually has to be enabled by via  a menu option. But then again, if you’ve switched to Open Source then I would have considered you informed enough to have figured this out for yourself. Unfortunately, looking at the header file of some of these emails, it’s quite obvious that many open source users have just forwarded blindly.

Also proprietary software developers such as the guys at Microsoft behind Office 2007 are to blame.

When you create a new email in Outlook it shows the “To” field and the “CC” field. There’s not a sign of the BCC field. It should be there if folks are expected to use it.

Also, when you click the “To…” button, or the CC one, to add addresses without typing them, the BCC field is shown, but it is last on the list, it should be second. Drop CC to the end. It’s a small design change but it would make protecting each others privacy a lot easier as it’s more likely to be selected first.

Better yet, how about a dialog box appearing every time you use CC asking “Are you sure you want to ruin your friends privacy and give these emails to spammers?

I propose not just moving BCC above CC, but instead of it standing for Blind Carbon Copy, how about changing the meaning to “Before Carbon Copy”. After all that’s how it should be used.