Magazine article Newsweek

E-Mail at Your Peril: Misplaced Messages Are No Laughing Matter

Magazine article Newsweek

E-Mail at Your Peril: Misplaced Messages Are No Laughing Matter

Article excerpt

Misplaced messages are no laughing matter

LOVE YOUR BUTT. THAT WAS THE GIST of the intraoffice e-mail that flashed across the computer of "Dateline NBC" anchor Stone Phillips. Now, most guys are willing to stomach some playful physique critique, but the ever-controlled Phillips--whose improbable name and bland good looks have given him something of a reputation for being, well, a stiff--was not amused, especially since the identification tag at the end of the note belonged to a young (fairly low-level) female staffer with whom he had little contact. So the upfight anchor confronted her and demanded an explanation. The bewildered desk assistant protested her innocence--she barely knew Phillips, much less his buns. So who was the real source of the naughty note? None other than that chipper prankster Katie Couric, cohost of the "Today" show. Joke's on you, Stone.

A little loose e-mail, even when it's sent with the lightest of intentions, can be a dangerous thing. Most people worry about having their messages secretly monitored by a boss--and they should, since the courts have declared that employers are entitled to any email that passes through the office. But the real threat to keeping terminal-to-terminal chatter private is not a snoopy supervisor (or even an office jokemeister) but human error. Electrons move a little too quickly for us mere mortals: every day people compose messages (frequently of the romantic variety) and then accidentally send them someplace unintended--like to everyone else in the office. "Think of e-mail like a postcard," warns Barry Lawrence of the Society of Human Resource Management. "Anyone can read it along the way."

Most stray e-mail results in nothing more painful than red faces. Susan Grady of Manhattan was sitting at her desk one day when a sizzling message scrolled across her screen. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.