Email Chain Letters - Harmless Fun or Not?

I'm sure I'm not the only person on the planet that remembers getting the occasional chain letter in school.. you know, the kind that was actually written with a pen or pencil on paper that told you either something wonderful would happen or something terrible would happen or both if you did or didn't send out 20 copies within 7 days. Ugh. I still remember my fingers cramping as I tediously re-wrote the letter 20 times and the looks on my friends faces when they realized the note i just passed them was leading them to the same path of wasted paper.

Things have changed a lot since then;

Not just the venue has changed though, now we not only get poems with promises of good luck or threats of doom for not following instructions, we get petitions, promises of rewards from big companies, plea's to call your local government person because of some pending law that will be devastating to someone or something, and suggestions to boycott popular companies because of some alleged injustice they have performed. (Just imagine the phone calls these companies get!)

I get amusing chain letters in my email box occasionally mixed in with some urban legends and Christian Internet hoaxes for variety and before I knew better I'd give a little laugh, a roll of the eyes and pass it on to the 10 required friends with the promise that something good would happen in 10 days (or that I would escape a horrific tragedy)

Oh but then I learned. I learned about SPAM and about how to finally change my email address when it got overwhelming!

Perpetuating email chain letters is not a good idea. I read recently that most Internet service providers prohibit it in their terms of service... hmm... I will have to read those terms to see what else I'm not allowed to do! But it is with good reason that they have these rules.

You know the old 'phrase' I tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends... yada yada yada... well imagine what happens when you forward that silly email to your 20 friends and they each send it to their 20 friends... well already you've got 420 copies going out to cyberspace and taking up bandwidth and bogging down servers all over the place - especially if your 20 people are co-workers on the same email system!

What else is wrong with it? Well you've just added your name, or at least email address to a long and growing list of which you have no control over. This is like sending out an engraved invitation to spammers and scammers all over the world and suddenly the note from Aunt Joan is burried among 50 emails trying to sell you everything from viagra to stocks and bonds.

So what can you do? Well, the first and most obvious is delete it. But sometimes it's a cute story or a joke or some other reason to smile or chuckle and we all need some of that now and again so you want to forward it? Take these steps to do it safely.

After you've clicked forward go through the email, delete all the email addresses that are hanging on to the mail of all the people that have recieved it with you.

Leave only the portion of the email that you think is funny or cute and take out all the instructions to forward to 10 - 20 - or 50 people and what will happen if you don't

Use the bcc: field for the emails of the people you're going to send it to to keep their emails from being passed on if one of them chooses to forward it.

Finally, while I definately recommend against it, some people are just too superstisious to let a chain letter break. If you MUST continue a chain letter, still follow steps 1 and 3 above and get yourself a disposable email address for this purpose. Belive me, if you've never had to change your email address to get rid of the junk, you don't want to find out how fun it is! Remember, it's not just advising your friends and family and co-workers of the new email, but many of your online accounts use your email address if not for signing in, for getting lost passwords etc. How frustrating to go to get the status of some account and when you realize you can't remember the password the only option is to have it emailed to you and you didn't update the account!

So, get a disposable email address and use it for forwarding chain letters (if you have to) but also for signing up for things on the Internet! Then when the spam hits the fan, you can just delete the account and get a new one.

Lisa Campbell
Newbie Guide to CyberJunk

In The News:


Getting Back To Basics.

While we all agree that there`s way too much spamming/junk-mailing... Read More

BUSTED: Anti Spam Forces Bankrupt Super-Spammer Scott Richter

Microsoft scores one for the good guysScott Richter, the self-proclaimed... Read More

Is Your Website Blacklisted?

A blacklist, as the name implies, is a list of... Read More

Lockspam Free 3.0 Released!

6 August, 2004: Polesoft Inc., home of Professional anti spam... Read More

All About Spam

Spam is annoying. Period. Why people would want to send... Read More

Dont Look Spammy!

We all hate spam and get way too much of... Read More

The Great Spam Scam: Five Strategies To Stop Brand and Revenue Robbery

Marketers usually think of anti-spam tactics as 'how to prevent'... Read More

A Practical Approach to Eliminate Spam

Spam is out of control! I guess that would be... Read More

20 Words That Kill - At Least When It Comes to Spam Filters

Spam, spam, spam. It's terrible not only for those of... Read More

Internet Tip of the Week: Outsourcing

It's no secret that the US economy has slowed down,... Read More

Protecting Yourself With A Porn Filter

The harmful affects of pornography use and addiction are well... Read More

Spammer in the Slammer: Jeremy Jaynes Sentenced to Nine Years

Will other spammers take heed? Don't count on it.Jeremy Jaynes... Read More

The Definition of Spam

Spam can bring down your website faster than a speeding... Read More

Spam: The Tasteless Internet Meat of Criminals

Spam. You've all heard of the crazy pink meat in... Read More

Which Spam Filter Is Best For You?

With the number of spam filtering solutions increasing each week... Read More

Im Guilty Until Proven Innocent

No doubt about it."Spam" (unsolicited commercial email) threatens to paralyze... Read More

Protecting Your Business From Spam

Even being as careful as possible with my email address,... Read More

Do You Know Whats in Your Trash?

A hearty welcome to all the spam fighting filters and... Read More

The Business Of Sending Spam

You all tear your hair out in frustration every time... Read More

Avoiding the Spam Trap: Get Your Message Delivered!

Your message is not being delivered.If you send emails to... Read More

Anti Trackback and Comment Spam Methods

What is spam ? ... Read More

What To Do When You Get Spam

When you go to your mailbox and find pieces of... Read More

Spammer Stole My Email Address?

Do you get bounced, or rejected emails sent by someone... Read More

Stuffing the Spammers!

I'm really, truly fed up with spam. Every day when... Read More

Bayesian Spam Filters Explained

In a word Bayesian spam filters are "intelligent". Bayesian spam... Read More