Email chain letters are evil

13 Apr 2001 | Sgt. Ken Griffin

It's all been confirmed through the proper channels: Bill Gates is not going to send you and your friends to Disney World, a deadly virus with an unknown cure is not being sent randomly through the mail and the U.S. Postal Service is certainly not going to start charging people 25 cents for each email they send.

You all know what I'm talking about...I'm talking about email chain letters.  Every Marine, Sailor and government service worker with access to the Worldwide Web and email has almost certainly received the numerous warnings concerning these letters sent out by network officials.

Yet unfortunately, it seems that the irrepressible urge to pass on that list of funny jokes or poem defining the true meaning of friendship still gets the better of people, not only on the Combat Center, but throughout the Marine Corps.

The bad news for those that give in is that it doesn't matter how funny or sweet your letter is - it doesn't overshadow the fact that passing chain letters is inappropriate, illegal, and can be extremely harmful to both individual workstations and networks as a whole.

According to GySgt. Alfonso McNeill, Network Chief, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, chain letters are a burden to networks, and sending them out victimizes the recipients.

"Sending out chain letters or even responding to them floods the network with useless information and drains resources," said McNeill.  "Every base has a limited amount of bandwidth, and using it for unofficial purposes such as these can even shut a network down."

Along with tying up valuable resources, chain letters are the most common and destructive way to spread the latest and greatest computer viruses.  Viruses seldom affect only one computer - they replicate and send themselves to everyone in your address book, damaging everything in their paths.

If you find yourself "victimized" by these letters, the solution is simple.  Don't read it, forward it, or reply.  I recently found myself victimized by several chain letters and made the mistake of replying to one with something along the lines of "please remove me from this list." 

The response bogged down the network because of the massive amount of recipients, and the "reply to all" button that I pressed happened to include the Marine Corps' Global Access List.  It was later rumored through the various butt-chewing sessions I received throughout the day that everyone in the Marine Corps from the Commandant on down received that message. 

Marines from as far away as Camp Lejuene called to correct me and offer advice.  They would have emailed me, but my account had already been suspended for a week.

Being a self-professed graduate of the school of hard knocks, it's not the toughest lesson I've learned, but certainly an inconvenience that has "effectively modified my outlook and handling of these matters."

Everyone should know that even if you mean well, failure to handle these letters in the correct manner can result in loss of privileges and is punishable by article 92 of the UCMJ.
Headquarters Marine Corps