There are a lot of websites around that offer the ability to send content to your friends via e-mail. You simply enter your name, e-mail address, and the addresses of friends to whom you’d like to forward that little digital gem. You click Send, and away it goes. Boy, that was easy. Life is good.
Oh, by the way, did you realize that you just potentially sold your friends’ private e-mail addresses to an untrusted 3rd party, who could use the highly coveted information for their own nefarious marketing purposes? Whether intentional or not, you just said, “Hey big corporation. Here’s a handful of active e-mail addresses that my friends actually use. I thought they’d like this funny car commercial, so they’re probably interested in cars. Keep that in mind if you ever need to do any targeted marketing.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that every website out there intends to sell or otherwise use those addresses that you provide for anything; in fact, many have privacy statements to assure us that will never happen. But did you carefully read the fine print, just to be sure? Probably not. My point is that you wouldn’t appreciate having your private e-mail address shared without your consent, and neither do your friends, bub.
While convenient, it’s typically unnecessary to use a website’s sharing tools to broadcast content to your friends. Your own e-mail client is perfectly capable of doing the heavy lifting (after all, your contact list is already loaded there), and browsers like Internet Explorer provide tools to make sharing pages via e-mail even easier. Better yet, ditch e-mail broadcasts altogether and use social bookmarks, such as Windows Live’s own shared favorites feature. It’s far less pushy than e-mail and ensures that your friends’ addresses are kept as private as they want them to be.