To See or Not to Bcc

(This entry first appeared in September 2008. I sent it as an email blast for an internal communication project with the title, Writer’s Toolbox: To See or Not to Bcc.)

I was pretty young when I first discovered the ‘powers’ of a carbon paper. That wonderful sheet of black paper that could make multiple and exact copies of my childish drawings! I didn’t realize it was such a ‘commodity’ until my grandfather took away the box of carbon paper that I discovered hidden in his office drawer.

Why this fuss over carbon paper?

Carbon copying is the precursor of what we now know as “bcc” (blind carbon copy). Several years ago, “bcc” referred to inserting sheets of carbon paper in between sheets of typing paper, and rolling the whole set into a typewriter. The idea is that whatever is typed on the top sheet would make an impression on the second . . . third . . . subsequent sheets until you have several and identical copies of a document.

Nowadays, “bcc” has come to connote ‘hiding’ addresses when you send an email to multiple recipients. People who receive emails but notice that their address is in the “bcc” box should be grateful – not suspicious – because it means the sender is prudent. Meaning, he/ she values your privacy and doesn’t want your email address to be taken without your permission.

Have you ever received an unsolicited or a spam email from someone you don’t know? Chances are, your address was taken from a correspondence with your name displayed in the “To” or “Cc” box.

Personally, I use the “bcc” feature for aesthetic purposes. Meaning, I don’t want to inconvenience people by letting them scroll down and go through a ‘block’ of addresses before finally reaching the contents of my email. This is especially true when I send messages using a Webmaster address. Names are hidden so that recipients will see right away what’s new in our website, newsletter, and with the Communications Team.

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