Clean up email messages before forwarding

So often we get messages we are inclined to forward to contacts in our own address book. While the following may not apply to all email programs or services, it will generally be true.

When you forward an email message the name and email address of the person who sent you the message will be shown to the people you send it to and also distributed further down the line as those persons may further forward your message. Most of us have seen such messages that have been forward numerous times and all the names and email addresses are there for everyone’s inspection, and subsequent use or abuse. It is the abuse aspect we need to be concerned about. Granted there are special situations (such as legal or financial) when it is important to include such information, but in most cases there is no need to do that, and we should be responsible and respect the privacy of the people who sent us the message in the first place.

So when forwarding such messages before you hit the Send button delete all the information of the names and email addresses that are present. Simply click the Forward button, and with you mouse select the text to be removed and hit the Delete key.

Another aspect to be aware of, if you forward a message as an attachment all the previous sender’s information is included. So in most cases it is advisable to select the option to “Forward” the message, instead of “Forward as an attachment”.

We have created a signature with the text below in Microsoft’s Outlook Express and when composing (or forwarding) a message that is a likely candidate of being forwarded (for example a joke to our inner circle of friends), we insert the signature at the top of the message, above the joke. We encourage you to adopt a similar practice.

The signature text:

Respect my privacy please. If you are forwarding this message to others first remove my name and email address from the outgoing message. This is important to prevent spam email, virus-infected email and stalking. Simply select the identifying text with mouse and delete. Do not “Forward as attachment” – use “Forward” instead.