So much of our modern communications technology gets dumped in our laps without instructions other than USE ME! Oh, there’s usually a “help” button on it somewhere – but honestly, how many of you click that, or if you did quickly gave up because it wanted you to view a bunch of slides/verbiage and your eyes quickly glazed over?
Thus it’s no wonder that you may be accidentally annoying your friends, as well as exposing them and many strangers to spam address collectors and hackers if you don’t know about using BCC.
BCC = “Blind Carbon Copy” (forget that anyone under ~25 may never have seen carbon paper used!). BCC is one of the fields available in the header when you are composing an email (in some applications you may need to expand the header to find it). Any addresses you put into the BCC field will be delivered normally… BUT… unlke using the TO or CC fields, the recipient will not see any other addresses you put into BCC – hence “blind.”
When sending email to many people, if they do not already know each other (e.g., people who subscribe to your newsletter or who want to be kept informed about your band’s gigs) you do NOT want to send your message in such a way that they all can see each others’ addresses, for several reasons:
- You can’t trust that others have virus-free computers.
Why does that matter to you and your addressees? Few viruses are actually created to destroy infected computers – instead they take control of the PC (usually, though Mac viruses exist now too) and use the system *and the information it contains*.
This means if you send my email address to someone with an infected computer, it may collect my address and either sell it to spammers or use it to send spam that looks like I emailed it.
- You can cause a really annoying “reply-all” cascade effect
If you don’t hide the addressees’ emails from each other with BCC, any one/all of them can reply to ALL OF THEM by hitting “reply all”. For example, this happened to me last week:
– A company from whom I’d purchased in the past sent out a sales email not using BCC correctly.
– One of the other recipients replied-all saying “take me off this list!!!”
– This email went to all 100+ people who got the original email.
– Over the rest of the day I received a barrage of further “reply-all” emails with people angrily screaming “why am I getting this?!” “take me off!!” “Stop using reply-all!!” etc. I finally had to black-list that dealer’s address to stop it – which means I’ll never see anything they send again.
- If you are a business, do you want to give your customers/contacts addresses to your competitors? This is a great way to do that!
So please practice good email hygiene and use BCC whenever you are sending email to people who should not be allowed to reply to each other. If you plan to send out regularly to a large group consider using a free group mailing service like Google Groups, or if a business/band/etc use a company designed for sending legally-compliant group emails like MailChimp (free option – this is an affiliate link), Constant Contact, ReverbNation, etc.