BCC is the feature in email that allows you to send a copy to someone without revealing their email address to the other recipients. It stands for Blind Carbon Copy. I always thought it was a great way to inform a large group of people about an upcoming training or something like that while protecting their privacy.
I received an email the other day that was addressed only to me. I replied and went about my day. Within a few hours, I received three or four other replies from people I did not know had also gotten this email. Apparently we were all BCC’d, and if you “Reply All” to a BCC, your reply goes to all the recipients, and you may not even know it.
Let’s say you BCC your supervisor on an email to a staff member about a missed deadline, to keep her in the loop and document your action. If she happens to accidentally hit “Reply All” when she writes back to advise you about your next steps, she’s not only in the loop, she is in the conversation, and this could have many unintended consequences for everyone involved.
Or let’s say you BCC your attorney when replying to a particularly nasty email from your ex. If your attorney inadvertently hits “Reply All”, your ex will get it too!
Don’t use BCC for sensitive communications. It is not private! If you want to keep people in the loop, forward your sent email to them separately and individually, and let them know it’s for their information or to document the communication.