No matter what activity we human being take part in, there are always those who abuse it and act unethically. Emailing is now one of the most common ways of communicating and we now see various types of treating others badly. Of course, criminal offenses such as adding a virus in an attachment which if opened will destroy all data on your computer (willful destruction of property) , or will lock your computer and you have to pay to have it unlocked (blackmail) are unethical. Another unethical practice is an email which installs spyware which tries to identify passwords, so that criminal can raid your bank account. Yet another example of unethical email conduct is phishing for your details so the senders can use your identity to scam others

Some unethical email conduct is just a variation of postal scams, such as someone claiming:

  • that they are a government official or an accountant of a deceased’s estate with ten millions  in an account and they will give you half if you allow it to be transferred to your bank account.
  • to be a poor person with a dying mother and they need cash for hospital bills
  • to be a friend of yours who has been mugged in a foreign country and lost everything an they need money to get back home.

However, there is a more subtle ways of fooling others which shows that email ethics should be taught in schools (particularly business schools). People know they should not spam people, that is send them uninvited email messages. Yet on a daily basis one gets emails with subject lines similar to the followings

  • “Your account is about to be cancelled”
  • “Notice to appear in court”
  • “Amazon has sent your order fo r $4000″
  • “V 1 agra”
  • “Grow your P*nis”
  • “Your bank account has been hacked please contact us immediately”
  • “Your urgent appearance in court is due.”
  • “You have a tax refund.”

In other words, people know they are doing the wrong thing. People know that spam filters are at work and deliberately try to circumvent the protections you have put in place. People use fear to try and tick you into opening their email.

That email ethics needs to be taught is clear. An excellent paper on this has been written by Prof Simon Rogerson and you can read it here: Email Ethics by Prof. Simon Rogerson


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