Bcc: how to send blind copies of your emails

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The Bcc address field is one of three that appear in the header of an email. Along with To and Cc, the blind copy function is use to write the email addresses of the recipients.

We explain what the Bcc function is, how it is use and in which situations you should avoid it.

What does CC mean?

The abbreviation Cco comes from the English Bcc (blind carbon copy). In Spanish, it has come to be translate as “With hidden copy”, although some sources translate it literally as “Hidden carbon copy”. The term refers to the method of copying with carbon paper that was use with typewriters or impact printers.

Unlike the Carbon Copy (Cc) feature, which allows you to see all the recipients to whom a copy of the message is sent, the addresses of the people who receive a Bcc mail are hidden and the recipients, anonymous.

Technical implementation of the Cco field

The Bcc function is not standardized. Depending on the underlying implementation, programs and mail servers treat the email addresses specified in this field very differently.

In general, they carry out the following procedure:

  • Before your mail server sends a message to the recipients specify in To, Cc, or Bcc, the latter field is remove from the email header. Contacts in the Bcc field are handle as conventional recipients and, like those refer to in the Cc field; receive a copy of the message. Also, like all other contacts, Bcc recipients can see addresses in the To and Cc fields. However, they cannot tell which addresses have been Bcc, as these contacts are not show to any recipients.

Although most mail servers work as describe above, in some cases the Bcc field is handle differently.

  • Sometimes addresses are delete and the Bcc field appears empty, in which case recipients will understand that Bcc recipients have been include, but won’t know who they are.
  • Likewise, it may also be the case that the Bcc field is delete only for the recipients include in To and Cc, so that the contacts with a blind copy can see this field in which, either only their email address appears, or – in particularly poor implementations – all Bcc recipients appear.

The Bcc function in practice

Bcc recipients receive a copy of messages address to other people without their knowledge. At first, this may sound like dubious secrecy, but the truth is that it is justify in certain communicative situations, such as when the email address of certain recipients needs to be protect.

There are three main reasons:

  • Data protection: Add to Cc only those recipients who agree that other contacts can see their email addresses.
  • Spam Prevention: Bulk emails that show all recipient addresses delight spammers.
  • Virus Protection: Protect your contacts from malware by using the Bcc field when sending bulk emails. Cybercriminals subscribe to newsletters and mailing lists and use email addresses that have been unwisely left visible for their purposes.

The Bcc field is very appropriate when sending mass emails to a large number of recipients.

Imagine that you want to wish your clients, associates and suppliers Christmas wishes and, to save time, you decide not to send personalized emails and send the same email to all your contacts. Would you leave all email addresses visible by inserting them in To or Cc?  Probably not. In order to protect your customer data and not to reveal your business contacts, you will use the Bcc field. However, data protection is not only important in business. A teacher who, for example, sends the minutes of a parent meeting to attendees should avoid using Cc mail and send the message using it instead.

This protects your data, preventing email addresses from spreading out of control and falling into the hands of spammers. By contrast, blind copy mailing is not suitable for internal corporate communication. Businesses have heavy email traffic. In this context, email copies inform colleagues and superiors about work processes, providing transparency. The Bcc mail feature detracts from that transparent communication. Let’s say you discuss a problem by email and when you respond. Your interlocutor adds a third recipient to Bcc without your knowledge. Surely, you will feel cheat or, at least, you will wonder why this recipient has been hide from you.

Therefore, we recommend that you avoid using it in your company and instead use Cc mail, unless you want to voluntarily keep certain colleagues out of a lengthy email discussion. And it is that the recipients in Bcc do not receive the answers automatically if the “Reply to all” function is used when answering. Therefore, if you want to inform a colleague of an email in a timely manner, but you want to save them the traffic of subsequent emails, you can add their address to Bcc and mention this fact explicitly to the rest of the recipients.

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