I guess it is the bogus “chain emails” about our Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates that have been forwarded to my email inbox everyday that has driven me to write a blog post about email ethics. I have come to the conclusion two things about these emails. One, this is the sender’s way (through propaganda) to try and influence my decision on who I should vote for, whether the content is true or not; OR Two, the sender actually believes that the content of what they are sending is truth. Either way it is not ethical to broadcast emails that plant a seed of mistrust, which at this time in our nation, we do not need. I’m especially noticing that the majority of these emails are slanted toward one direction in general and it has me questioning whether some of these emails have been supplanted by the campaigning party in an effort to prey on our ignorance. I really hope this is not true.
I’ve had an interest in information technology prior to the general population knowing what the internet was, let alone email. Actually the concept of email predates the actual creation of the internet. Email was originally designed to be an electronic medium to communicate and share information (usually important and factual information). Today it is still an important communications medium; however, spam email, fraudulent email, viral laden email and chain letter email have pretty much made email an unreliable method of communications.
Probably the most offensive of the four I just mentioned is the “chain letter emails” which 99.9 percent of the time contain false information (urban legends or outward lies), bogus virus warnings, offers of easy cash, prayer requests, crime scenarios to watch for, political untruths, etc… Also my friend Tech Paul, over at “Tech-for Everyone” added (10/25/2008) “that these chain letters usually contain an image (or other little ‘flag’) that allows a cyber-criminal to harvest the valid e-mail addresses when recipients open the e-mail. Which, of course leads to more spam.”
The chain letter emails, especially the political ones, really has plucked a nerve with me and I find them quite offensive. I am proud to be a citizen of the United State of America (one nation under God, indivisible) and my voting decisions are private and personal. I don’t need someone sending me an email that is obviously constructed in such a way to create division, hate, and mistrust. It is an insult to one’s intelligence. If all we have left is to base our beliefs and decisions on what we read in our email, then we are in trouble. To show you how extensive this problem is, if you visit “Snopes.com“, which is a site dedicated to validating what they call urban legends (I call them lies), you will see that the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates are in their top fifteen list for urban legends. In my effort, to maybe reach some of my friends, family and others out there in the world, I came up with some email ethics guidelines that are really simple to follow.
Email Ethics Guidelines:
- Learn to spot the lie. If you see that an email has been forwarded numerous times, or instructs you in the email to forward it on, or reflects a personal attack against another person; then help break the chain by deleting it. Chain letter emails do nothing but clog the email servers, cause anxiety, offends people and takes our time. They literally can remain out there in cyberspace for an indefinite time period. Real simple; DELETE IT!
- Don’t be part of the lie. “Believe Nothing and Verify Everything”. If it is that important to you, verify and reflect the source of the information prior to forwarding it to your family and friends. You are being part of the lie by forwarding those types of emails. Real Simple: DELETE IT!
- Don’t start the lie. If you desire to take a stance on an issue or you desire to broadcast information, point your readers to your credible sources. Just because someone says it is true, does not make it true.