- There is a lot of garbage out in the internet.
- We are not as security savvy as we need to be.
- You don’t know who is going to do what with what you forward.
- Unless you produce the content yourself, you can’t guarantee the safety or accuracy of the content.
Multiple Recipient Addressing:
Forwarding emails is a pet-peeve of mine. The biggest indiscretion is when someone forwards an email with all the prior email addresses attached. Similarly, when someone sends an email to multiple recipients where the trust relationship has not been established between the those contacts.
The resolution is simple: Use BCC: (Blind Carbon Copy). This option may not be visible by default, you may have to enable it on your email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Ice Dove, Evolution …) Using BCC:, the recipients of the email do not know who else received that email, nor do they have access to those email addresses. Why block the email addresses? Because, one forwarded email can contain many addresses. If one person in that chain forwards that email, then all those addresses are made available to a 3rd party that has a 2nd degree of separation from the intended recipients.
The vast majority of emails are not secure. The addresses can be scraped, either by hostile forces or by a legitimate recipient 3 or 4 degrees of separation from the intended audience. That person now has email addresses to send spam to.
Emails containing images:
Images contained within emails can contain embedded virii. Although the embedded virus cannot cause harm unless activated, you can’t guarantee what the recipient will do with that photo. If that photo is edited or loaded into a database, in that process that embedded code can be activated, infecting the editor or database and then it becomes a live infection.
Resolution: Don’t forward emails containing images that you don’t create. That picture of Jesus just may be the beginning of your friends’ computer infection.
Use a fact checker
Snopes and Google are wonderful tools. Use them to debunk any and all information you share as fact. Practically all forwarded email is garbage and you should assume the information is false until verified by a responsible site. Realize that Google is a search engine and not a fact checker. But, Google can help you gain insight into the insidiousness of the chain email you are choosing to forward.