When you receive a newsletter in your email inbox and you want to forward it to a friend or colleague, what do you do? Do you click the forward button in your own email message? If this is how you forward newsletters, be careful! You could be compromising your own security!
Here’s what’s happening:
Newsletters and all commercial email are required, by law, to include information on “how to opt out of receiving future emails from you” (FTC.gov). Email platforms usually meet this need by inserting an unsubscribe hyperlink the footer.
When you forward a newsletter directly from your inbox to someone else’s, you also hand them the keys to your subscription. You compromise your own security because the message will include the footer – and with it the “unsubscribe” link – and that gives them the power to access your newsletter subscription!
If all goes well, the unsubscribe button won’t automatically unsubscribe the registered party. The best systems will ask for some form of confirmation. Even then, if all you have to do is acknowledge the original email that the newsletter was sent to, you can find that information back in the email message that was forwarded.
To keep your information secure, follow these best practices when forwarding a newsletter:
- Use the “forward to a friend” button if one has been included in the message. Yes, it enables the email creator to track that you forwarded their message and to see where it was sent – but it’s their email. Isn’t that just respectful? Even if you aren’t thrilled with this, it’s still more important to protect your own security.
- If you must send the newsletter directly from your own email, go through the message and delete the footer content before you send. Also check the header content, just in case the unsubscribe info has been included there as well.
In turn – if you create your own email newsletters that include the ability to unsubscribe, be sure to include a “forward to a friend” button so others can forward your email without compromising their own security – and at the same time, enable you to see that it has been forwarded!