FW: think before you send

pricewaterhousecoopers viral email

Over the last couple of days we’ve seen two great examples of user stupidity when it comes to sending emails…

PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘Top 10 Female Trainees’ email

News of this internal email only really broke today although the email itself had been sent around for weeks and only got back to management on Tuesday evening. The male employees in the Dublin branch came up with the idea of creating a top 10 shortlist of female employees.

The reality is this stuff happens, but it doesn’t normally happen through email, during work hours. For any of you who’ve seen The Social Network (movie), it shows how Mark Zuckerberg created a website called ‘facemash’ which was essentially a hotornot.com for college students. Pretty similar idea to this email… that site crashed harvard’s servers and the reality is, this is entertainment and viral online entertainment at it’s finest. This gets people’s attention. If you’re one of the females in question however you won’t see it like that and rightly so, but that’s probably why it went viral – because it was never supposed to.

Again this is just employee stupidity. Ok, it was probably completely innocent and was never intended go beyond the dublin office but like a lot of things in digital format, you’ll find you can’t shred it or burn it and pretend it never existed… if you send somebody an email or publish something online, whatever you say can and will come back to haunt you if it’s risky or controversial. You must always be prepared for that and be able to stand over whatever it is you’re saying.

In this case, the lads in the Dublin office can’t really put up much of a defence… it is of course blown way out of proportion (i feel). No doubt this sort of thing happened 10-15 years ago on a regular basis but because it wasn’t so easy to forward stuff on, it would never have made it’s way on to social networks and in to mainstream media.


Google Pay Rise email

Yesterday we learned about Google’s ‘pay rise’ email. This was an email sent to all staff informing them they were getting a 10% pay rise and $1000 cash. Of course it’s instinctive to say ‘YES!!’ and tell people about it but the email (which came directly from Eric Schmidt) specifically said at the top;


When this story first broke yesterday the very first thing i said to myself was “someone’s gonna get a bashing over this” because for whatever reason, Google wanted this kept private and they specifically say that in those first two lines.

Forwarding the email on to someone in the media or indeed anyone outside of Google isn’t a smart thing to do in this case. Would you want somebody looking at an email you’ve titled ‘CONFIDENTIAL: INTERNAL ONLY’? Of course you wouldn’t. The last place you want to see it is plastered all over the internet for all to see.

Apparently, the Googler who leaked that email is now picking us his p45 or whatever the equivalent is in the US. A good example of how not to use email although i’m not sure Google could have genuinely expected this NOT to get out at some stage. The conspiracy theorists will say the ‘leak’ was a PR stunt which makes Google look modest. Had they announced it publicly themselves it could have been seen as ‘showing off’. I think Google have definitely come out of this with a better image than they would have done had they publicly announced it themselves.

The moral of the story is don’t be stupid when it comes to email or social media for that matter too. That includes forwarding on joke and chain mails and ‘if you don’t put this in your status and join this group you’re going to die’ facebook statuses.

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