Accidental Mass-Email to over 1,800 students Leads to Excessive Replies

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Whenever an email is sent out to the NJIT student body by a club or an organization, the “bcc” (blind carbon copy) tool is typically used in order to protect students’ privacy and prevent any mass-replies; this way, each recipient of the email has no way of knowing who else received the email and can only reply directly to the sender unless otherwise specified.

Yet on October 3rd, an email about a Harry Potter Festival in Philadelphia was accidentally sent directly to every undergraduate student at NJIT as a regular email rather than through the bcc tool. It wasn’t long before many students realized this mistake and began to post replies that would be sent to the 1,852 recipients of the email thread at NJIT. Some students used the email as an opportunity to make friends by posting their social media information. Others used the mistake to promote their own events such as a Laurel Hall Fried Oreo Session or an Apple Cider Bake Sale. However, the vast majority of the 60+ replies were memes, links to videos, and excessively long texts.

For example, one of the earlier replies was a link to “unsubscribe” from the email which actually led to a video of Rick Astley’s classic hit Never Going to Give You Up. Another student replied with the text of the infamous Nigerian email scam, asking for assistance in moving $40,000,000 of tied up Nigerian oil money in exchange for a 10% cut. Many students simply posted pictures, such as the portrait of Alfonso Ribeiro from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Filthy Frank’s It’s Time to Stop.

Unfortunately as time went by, the replies became more and more ridiculous. Some of the later replies included the entire script of the 2007 DreamWorks title Bee Movie, the entire text of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the longest word in existence: the chemical name of the protein Titin. Afterwards, students began to complain of their phones crashing and many deleted, muted, or archived the conversation in a desperate attempt at finding peace and quiet. It is not yet known if NJIT will take any corrective action on these replies but one thing is sure: the sender and recipients of the original email have certainly learned their lesson about using the bcc tool.

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Ianiz Patchedjiev

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