BCC Protocol - Email Morality?

What does the existence of "BCC" (which I think stands for the anachronism "blind carbon copy") tell us about the social norms of emails? This thought occurred to me just now as I was the recipient of an email (corresponding to (3) in the not at all uncommon scenario that I describe below.

It is an interesting piece of deception that we all participate in, isn't it? Has anyone ever thought about the morality of email addressing?

Scenario:

  1. X sends an email to: A, CC: B and C
  2. A does a "Reply all" so that B, C and X see the response
  3. A sends an email directly to X, BCC to B


Analysis:

  1. X wants to tell A, something, and make sure that B and C also hear. X wants to communicate that the message is meant for A, that A is the one who is expected to respond, but wants each of them to know that the others are getting that same information.
  2. A wants to answer X, and make sure that B and C see the response. Why? Perhaps A wants to make sure that A, B, and C keep their story straight? Perhaps A actually wants to tell B or C something, uses the Reply All as a carrier for that message, thereyby getting some cover.
  3. Now, this gets interesting. Apparently A wants X to think that he is getting some information privately. But at the same time wants B to know that X has gotten this information. Why? Perhaps A would like B to make the same point to X, and make it look like the it was independent. Or perhaps A wants to make sure that if X asks B about it, B says the same thing that A said.


Hmm, sounds like a bit of interpersonal deception is going on here. I am not casting judgement - I've played the role of X, A, B or C more than once. But it does make you think.

What would Dear Abby say?

Update:As one wag said to me in email: "I think Dear Abby might say that Pito needs a hobby :-)"
Posted on January 10, 2005 and filed under Life.