How do I email lots of people without all their addresses showing up?



OK, I’m prompted to post this because for the 2nd time this month I’ve received an “I’m changing my email address” message. In both cases, what appear to be 100-200 email addresses were all in the To: field and I cringed as I skimmed the list and found my more private address (that I usually don’t share) as one of them.

Okay, maybe it’s not a big deal, it’s not like all those people are going to decide to email me right? Well, the way I see it, if one of those people get’s an email virus, then I’ll get an uptick in viral messages coming in and probably an increase in junk mail. Given that they are using similar distribution methods, the first time someone on the list gets a virus, we’ll all see more junk coming in. Now, I’ve got a junk filter that takes care of that and a virus filter that traps viral messages, but it’s all at the cost of extra processor time and bandwidth.

It sure would be nice if there was a way to send a lot of messages without showing everyone’s email address to everyone else. There is. It’s called Blind Carbon Copy (BCC). Most every email program gives you three different address fields, To, CC and BCC. Now, by default BCC is usually hidden, but most GUI based mailers will let you click on either To or CC to see your address list and, low and behold, the option to move the contacts either the To, CC or BCC field.

Now, there are some problems with BCC. If I send out a message with NO address in To or CC, I’ve found that some mailserver reject it because it doesn’t appear to be to ANY recipient. That’s because ANY address in BCC is hidden. One trick that I’ve suggested to work around this is to include your own email address in the To field.

Additionaly there are some programs, many web based, or mail server based, that are designed to send messages to lots of people without disclosing each email address. All of the domains I serve have this capability. Essentially, you setup an address, say mylist@mydomain.com and subscribe addresses to that list, then you send an email to mylist@mydomain.com and it is sent out to each of the members without disclosing their individual addresses.

Unfortunately this technique could be used for spamming. Most service providers, including mine, take a DIM view of unsolicited bulk emailing. (Which is why most junk mail are sent from infected residential machines.)

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