dearJulius.com

You Don’t Want to Know What Happens to Email You Send


By Stephanie Dubick, The Outline

A few years ago, I thought I’d try using email tracking. After reading an article about the effectiveness of free email-tracking services like Streak and Yesware, I figured it would be a useful way to track my pitches and see which ideas worked and which ones were hot garbage.

At the beginning of our time together, Streak and I were fine. I would send out an email to an editor and watch when it opened, how many times it opened, and on what device it was opened on (the privacy concerns unphazed me at that point). I just liked that editors were reading my stuff.

But after a while, I noticed how tense I’d get if someone didn’t get back to me. I'd wonder, what did I do wrong? Why were they looking at my email 10 times but not responding? It made me question my self-worth and I grappled with whether or not I was good enough. I was allowing an extension to define me.

My experience made me realize that extensions like Streak can promote paranoia, frustration, and it can cause unnecessary amounts of stress. But most importantly, email tracking is evolving into a fairly ubiquitous technology that’s invading our personal privacy and affecting not only marketing emails, but our personal emails, too.

For those unfamiliar with email tracking, it is a technology first introduced in the early ‘90s that places an invisible image pixel into a sender’s email notifying them when an email has been opened or clicked. “The basic idea,” said Dr. Haitao Xu, an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Arizona State University focusing on the intersection of cybersecurity and user privacy, “is that every time a recipient opens an email, their browser will automatically download the invisible image pixel from the email tracker's server.” During this process, says Xu, the tracker’s server collects information about the recipient, allowing it to notify its client (or the email sender) when, how many times, where, and from what device a recipient opened the email.

The obvious implication of email tracking services is their gross breach of privacy — recipients are often unaware that they’re being tracked. This prevalent, secretive way of collecting customer data, which can infer a recipients geolocation, the device they’re using, and even the sleeping patterns of users, happens constantly. With mailing list emails, newsletters and other marketing-based emails, tracking resources are used a staggering 70 percent of the time. And what’s worse is that 30 percent of mailing list emails also leak a user’s email address to third-party trackers in order to create targeted ads to potential consumers.

In a revealing 2017 paper, three Princeton computer scientists found that “when users click links in emails, regardless of the email client, we find additional leaks of the email address to trackers.” The insidious nature of mailing list emails means that users who click on links or pictures in emails are at risk of having their information shared with multiple third parties without their consent. And many of these third-party businesses are paying big money for our information.

“Various businesses have a high demand for email tracking services,” said Xu, who conducted with University of California San Diego postdoctoral researcher Shuai Hao a 2018 study titled Privacy Risk Assessment on Email Tracking. “Such businesses include, but are not limited to, education, travel, financial, health, shopping, and software vendors.” The study also showed that about 58 percent of emails from travel businesses and 43 percent of emails from health businesses track emails; United Airlines and Staples specifically have used “at least eight or nine” different email-tracking services to access user data for customized marketing.

“We also found that it is those big companies,” said Xu, “such as Oracle, Adobe, and Google, that provide those top ETSes. Among the top 10 most popular email tracking services, Oracle runs four of them (returnpath.net, emltrk.com, responsys.net, bluekai.com), Adobe runs demdex.net and Google runs doubleclick.net.”

According to Sydney Li, a writer, and researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has written extensively about the privacy concerns that email tracking poses, invasive email tracking happens regularly over unencrypted connections. “That means any activity that’s being tracked, like link clicks, are all being exposed to whatever network you’re on. If you’re sitting at a place using Wi-Fi, people will know somebody at this email address has clicked this link,” Li said.

Li is also concerned about cookies, or parts of your online identity, being cross-referenced with other third parties whenever you click links in emails. Large organizations cross-reference “their version of your identity with other third-party versions of your identity. They’re creating this large profile about not only your web activity but then link that to your email subscription as well,” Li said. In addition, Li pointed out that third-party email tracking technologies are sharing users’ email addresses across different emails they open, and across different devices, and building a profile of their online life.

In order to guard yourself, Li recommends proactively opting out of tracking. Email clients like Gmail and Apple allow you to disable tracking from third-party resources in your settings, while Outlook and Thunderbird disable it by default. And, in the name of transparency, if you use tracking at work, it doesn't hurt to let coworkers know you're using a tracking service.

But aside from the privacy implications of email tracking, little research has been devoted to the psychological implications of tracking, especially as it applies to personal emails and professional/non-marketing emails. In a 2017 issue of Wired, Brian Merchant vigorously detailed his experience with Streak, revealing that while the technology is useful in determining when sources read his emails, it also violated the “social norms of email etiquette" by spying on friends and family. Merchant referenced data from a 2017 study from email intelligence business One More Company that claimed that “19 percent of all ‘conversational’ email is now tracked. That’s one in five of the emails you get from your friends. And you probably never noticed.”

Sa'iyda Shabazz, a freelance culture writer from Los Angeles, quickly learned the travails of email tracking. It took her only two weeks before she called it quits with the productivity software program Boomerang, which also has email tracking tools. Starting out as a freelancer in 2016, she installed Boomerang to track her pitches and to see which editors were opening her emails. She sent out her first pitch then watched the number of times her email was opened.

“The anxiety of sending a pitch to someplace like The Atlantic was stressful enough,” Shabazz told me. “I was sitting there watching how many times they allegedly opened the email, and I never heard anything back from them. It took awhile for them to get back to me. I was just like, ‘They’ve opened it 11 times. Why haven’t I heard anything? Does that mean they like it? Are they opening it on accident?’ There are so many things that are going through your mind.”

Soon, the anxiety of the clearly read-but-unanswered emails began to affect her mental health. What good was having this information if it only caused pain? Shabazz realized the stress wasn’t worth it and ditched Boomerang. “It was just getting nuts,” she said. “I had a million other things going on and I didn't need the stress of wondering why I hadn't heard back from anyone. I was asking: Does that mean they don’t like it? Does that mean I'm a terrible writer? Does that mean they loved it? I had these feelings enough as it is. I didn’t need more things to validate my crazy.”

Similarly, writer and copyeditor Antonia Malchik found that email tracking was affecting the way she answered emails. Though she never installed an email tracking extension herself, she felt reluctant to answer emails that she knew or suspected were being tracked. “I realized that people I know and corresponded with were using it,” Malchik told me. “Then it made me anxious. Are you seriously telling me that you can see every time I re-read this email, or open the email, and you’re sitting there wondering why I haven’t responded? It’s kind of like catcalling. It’s something that feels like it is demanding your attention and response.” With tracked emails sent by colleagues, Malchik felt an extra added pressure to respond to an email quickly. “Until I found out that there was a way to block Streak in Gmail, I wouldn’t open emails because I would get anxious about them being tracked.”

The anxiety that email tracking has caused for Shabazz and Malchik stems from the concept of technological anxiety. According to Larry Rosen, a professor emeritus of psychology at California State University Dominguez Hills, technology anxiety is an emotional response to how we use technology. It can predict one’s well-being, academic performance, sleep patterns, and technology use. On a more basic level, Rosen’s research has found that technological anxiety can stem from the world of social obligations built up over time through social media, text messaging, and email. We’ve conditioned ourselves to think “that when someone in our social sphere, whether we know them or not, tries to connect with us, it is our social responsibility to connect back with them as soon as possible,” Rosen said.

In fact, he said, our desire to respond immediately is almost Pavlovian, in that we respond to stimuli like social-media notifications and emails without thinking about what we’re saying. We’re compelled to check social media so often because we don’t want to miss out on something we should be responding to. “As for tracking email messages,” Rosen said, “if you know that your emails are being checked, if you know that people know when you read them, then it’s going to compel you to check an email faster.”

In the end, we just want people to get back to us. We want to be connected, even if that means secretly tracking people to see when they open your email. So, in the spirit of proper email etiquette, the moral thing to do is to let people know if you’re using a tracking extension. “It’s also good to let them know that anybody could be doing this to them,” Li said, “but that too few people notice.”

See more at The Outline

COMMENTS




Made with in NYC
Name

4th of July,7,Abu Dhabi,2,Accessories,234,Acne,13,Adventure,32,Adventure Travel,638,Advice,295,Africa,26,African Food,2,AIDS,1,Air Travel,150,Alabama,5,Alaska,20,Alberta,1,Alcohol,4,All About Beer,1,All About Wine,2,Alternative Treatments,4,America,77,American Food,5,Amsterdam,2,Android,11,Anguilla,3,Animal,367,Animal Health,1,Animals,103,Anniversary,1,Anniversary Cake,11,Antarctica,7,Anti-aging,49,Antigua,3,Appetizers & Snacks,2,Apple,11,Apps,16,Argentina,15,Arizona,19,Arkansas,2,Armenia,1,Asia Travel,47,Asian Food,7,Asthma,4,Athens,3,Austin,8,Australia,92,Australian Food,1,Austria,13,Autism,1,Auto Insurance,1,Auto Show,52,Autos,639,Azerbaijan,1,Baby Shower Cake,29,Back Pain,25,Bags,10,Bahamas,13,Balance Work & Life,50,Banana Cakes,2,Bangladesh,8,Barn Finds,1,Bathroom,43,Be a Better Manager,33,Beach Travel,58,Beaded Dress,2,Beards and Shaving,29,Beauty,1888,Beauty & Style,35,Beef Recipes,7,Belarus,1,Belgium,9,Belize,15,Bermuda,5,Best Products,17,Better Partner,40,Beverages,3,Bhutan,9,Bills to Pay,35,Birds,4,Birth Control,1,Birthday Cake,109,Blue Lagoon,2,Blueberry Cake,11,Bolivia,3,Books,1,Botswana,3,Brazil,38,Bread,11,Breads,1,Break Room,12,Breakfast & Brunch,6,Breakup,19,Breakups,3,breast,1,Breasts,69,Broken Hearts,5,Brownie,8,Brunei,1,Budget Travel,97,Bundt Cake,30,Business Skills,102,Butter Cake,52,Buying,1,By Region,3,Cake Decorating,113,Cakes,54,California,109,Cambodia,4,Camera,6,Canada,80,Cancer,73,Car Shows,1,Car Tech,2,Caramel Cake,5,Career,293,Career Advice,298,Career Choice,125,Career Growth,180,Career Paths,24,Career Problem,8,Caribbean,45,Caribbean & Mexico,5,Carrot Cake,22,Cats,49,Celebrity,17,Celebrity Dress,2,Celebs,1,Ceremonial Cake,9,Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles,1,Cheese Recipes,4,Cheesecakes,251,Chicago,7,Chicago Auto Show,2,Chicken Recipes,14,Chiffon Cake,5,Children's Health,21,Chile,7,China,21,Chocolate Cake,395,Christmas,35,Christmas Cake,23,Christmas Travel,14,Classic Cars,39,Cleaning Tips,144,Clinical Practice,1,Clothes,1,Cocktail Recipes,2,Coconut Cake,21,Coffee,1,Coffee Cake,15,Coliseum,1,Colombia,18,Colorado,32,Columbia,3,Communication,2,Companies,2,Compassion,2,Computing,16,Connecticut,4,Consumer Electronics Show,5,Cookies,10,Cooking,8,Corporate Travel,2,Costa Rica,13,Country Travel,249,Creative,309,Creative Idea,22,Creative Ideas,37,Croatia,15,Cruiser Travel,16,Cuba,18,Cultural Travel,66,Cupcake,322,Customs & Classics,2,Czech Republic,6,D.C.,2,Dandruff,1,Dating,18,Dating Advice,73,Dating Advice for Women,22,Dating Tips,13,Decor,23,Decorating Ideas,181,Delaware,1,Demotivational,636,Denmark,12,Dental Health,26,Dentistry,1,Depression,24,Desert Travel,1,Desserts,3,Detroit Auto Show,4,Diabetes,25,Diet,131,Dining Out,3,Dinner,14,Disease,116,Divorce,16,DIY,112,DIY Fashion,34,Dogs,156,Doughnuts,5,Dress,29,Drink,27,Drinks,1,Drinks & Cocktails,4,Driving,3,Drugs,3,Dubai,15,Ears,2,East Africa,4,Easter,1,Easter Island,1,Easter Travel,1,Eco Travel,18,Ecuador,7,Education,87,Eggs,3,Egypt,4,Electronics,4,Electronics and Gadgets,2,Emirates,1,England,13,Entertainment,148,Enthusiasts,131,Entrepreneurship,40,Estonia,2,Eswatini,1,Ethiopia,2,Europe,110,European Food,8,Exercises,51,Eye,300,Eye Health,28,Eyebrow,56,Eyelash,20,Face,54,Facts,284,Fall Travel,43,Family,16,Family Travel,128,Faroe Island,1,Fashion,395,Fashion for Kids,2,Fashion for Man,12,Fashion for Woman,31,Fat Loss,91,Father's Day Cake,4,Father's Day Travel,1,Featured,218,Features,1913,Fertility,2,Festival Travel,25,Fiji,6,Finance,129,Finland,16,Fish & Seafood,13,Fitness,1177,Fitness & Exercise,219,Florida,69,Food,305,Food and Drink,14,Food Recipes,7,France,37,Frankfurt Motor Show,2,Free Travel,3,French,6,French Polynesia,5,Friendship,40,Fruit & Veggie Recipes,8,Fruitcake,70,Fruits,4,Fuel Economy,1,Fun,42,Funny,546,Gadgets,31,Galapagos,3,Games,12,Garden,24,Gardening,277,Gearheads,1,General,7,Geneva Motor Show,3,Georgia,14,Germany,18,Get Healthy,63,Ghana,2,Girlfriend Grooming,10,Google,15,Graduation Cake,2,Gratitude,11,Greece,37,Green Living,5,Greenland,1,Grooming,89,Guatemala,2,Hair,1264,Hair Care,317,Hair Color,299,Hairstyle,65,Hairstyles,855,Halloween,41,Halloween Cake,12,Halloween Travel,9,Happiness,19,Hawaii,53,Hayden Panettiere,1,Headache,22,Health,940,Health & Fitness,300,Health Care,491,Health Insurance,1,Healthcare Tech,6,Healthy,12,Healthy Drinks,31,Healthy Eating,186,Healthy Habits,159,Healthy Living,345,Hearing,1,Hiking Travel,63,HIV/AIDS,4,Holiday Travel,28,Holland,1,home,31,Home & Garden,205,Home and Decor,483,Honeymoon Travel,128,Hong Kong,13,Horoscope,31,Hot Rod Power Tour,1,Hotels,71,Housekeeper,8,Hungary,3,Ice cream Cake,21,Iceland,41,Idaho,4,Ideas,11,Illinois,13,Imports,1,Impress a Girl,20,Impress Women,4,Independence Day Travel,1,India,36,Indiana,5,Indonesia,13,Indoor Gardening,69,Industry,5,Inspiration,58,Insurance,5,Internet,19,Internship,8,Interview Skills,37,Investing,12,iPad,2,iPhone,6,Iraq,1,Ireland,36,Island,60,islands,2,Israel,9,Italy,56,Jamaica,8,Japan,44,Jealousy,2,Jewelry,13,Job Search,47,Jordan,6,Just For Fun,2,Kansas,6,Kentucky,2,Kenya,2,Kids,3,Kids & Pets,10,Kitchen,67,Koala,1,Korea,2,Kyrgyzstan,1,Lamb,2,Laptops,4,Latin America,3,Latin American Food,1,Latvia,1,Laundry,6,Layer Cake,95,Leadership,44,Legs,1,Lemon Cake,18,Life,1,Life Hacks,273,Lifestyle,1118,Lips,134,Lithuania,2,London,24,Long Distance Relationship,24,Los Angeles Auto Show,14,Louisiana,9,Love,165,Lowa,4,Lunch,5,Luxembourg,1,Luxury Travel,35,Maine,6,Maintenance,3,Makeup,608,Makeup & Beauty,11,Makeup Tips,77,Malaysia,1,Maldives,15,Malta,2,Mango Cake,3,Manicure,10,Marketing,10,Markets,11,Marriage,97,Marshmallow,3,Maryland,6,Massachusetts,9,Massage,5,Mauritius,6,Meditation,35,Men & Women,18,Men's,4,Men's Health,14,Menstruation,21,Mental Health,302,Mexico,74,Miami,13,Michigan,5,Microsoft,6,Middle Eastern Food,2,Mind,3,Mississippi,2,Missouri,7,Mobile,22,Moldova,1,Monaco,1,Money & Career,21,Monkey,1,Montana,12,Morocco,20,Mother's Day Travel,1,Motherhood,16,Motivation,2,Motorcycles,106,Motorsports,2,Mousse,2,Muffins,9,Mug Cake,14,Multiple Sclerosis,1,Muscle Cars,4,Muscle Cars & Hot Rods,3,Muscle Gain,2,Myanmar,9,Nail Art,195,Nails,252,Namibia,4,Nature,4,Nature Travel,102,Nepal,6,Netherlands,11,Nevada,23,Nevis,1,New Bikes,2,New Car Deals,1,New England,5,New Jersey,2,New Mexico,6,New Year Fashion,6,New Year's Day Travel,6,New York,55,New York Auto Show,3,New York City,20,New Zealand,47,Newfoundland,1,Newlyweds,4,News,334,Nicaragua,2,North America,11,North Carolina,6,North Dakota,1,North Ireland,1,Northern Ireland,1,Norway,20,Nutrition,447,Occasional Travel,9,Oceania,1,Offbeat,820,Ohio,6,Oman,5,Online Date Tips,2,Operating Systems,2,Oral,4,Oregon,10,outdoor,3,Outfits,166,Ownership,61,Pain,24,Painting,16,Pakistan,2,Panama,5,Pancake,19,Panda,1,Panna Cotta,3,Paraguay,1,Parenting,370,Paris,23,Paris Motor Show,4,Pasta,2,Pastry,7,Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance,2,Pedicure,4,Penguin,4,Pennsylvania,10,People & Places,88,Perfumes,14,Personal Finance,164,Peru,21,Pets,310,Phoenix,1,Photo Feature,1,Pie,27,Pimple,3,Plum Cake,1,Poke Cake,10,Poland,3,Popular Ingredients,26,Pork Recipes,7,Portable Media,14,Portugal,21,Pound Cake,55,Prague,1,Pregnancy,112,Premium,1,Printer,2,Protein Bars,1,Psychology,1,Pudding,9,Puerto Rico,7,Pumpkin Cake,45,Qatar,6,Quick & Easy Recipes,11,Real Estate,72,Recalls,4,Recipe,1098,Recipes,52,Recipes & Meal Ideas,3,Recipes By Course,5,Relationship,167,Relationship Advice,180,Relationship Advice for Men,23,Relationship Advice for Women,27,Relationship Problems,58,Relationship Secrets,14,Relationships,148,Research,94,Resort,11,Restaurants & News,13,Resume,11,Retirement,10,Reviews,1,Rhode Island,2,River Travel,2,Road Trips,49,Romania,4,Romantic Getaways,15,Rome,5,Russia,16,Safety,5,Saint Lucia,1,Saint Patrick's Day Travel,1,Salad,6,San Miguel de Allende,1,Science & Tech,66,Scotland,10,Seasonal,56,Seasonal Travel,59,Security,9,Self Help,14,Self-Care,3,SEMA Show,5,Senior Relationship,2,Sex,7,Sexual Health,19,Shanghai Auto Show,7,Shaving,1,Sheet Cake,20,Shirt,4,Shoes,29,Shopping,10,Shots & Shooters,1,Side Dishes,4,Sightseeing Tours,2,Singapore,18,Ski Resorts,10,Skin,429,Skin Caare,1,Skin Care,609,Sleep,62,Slovenia,6,Small Business,163,Smartphone,28,Smile,1,Smoothies & Juices,3,Snacks,1,Social Media,44,Solo Travel,24,Solomon Islands,1,Somoa,1,Soth Africa,1,South Africa,14,South America,3,South Carolina,4,South Dakota,5,South Korea,3,South Pacific,2,Space Travel,14,Spain,33,Special,46,Special Cake,579,Special Feature,113,Special Features,490,Sponge Cake,15,Sports,22,Sports and Exotics,4,Sports Cars,8,Spring Travel,23,Squirrel,1,Sri Lanka,6,Strawberry Cake,22,Street Fashion,8,Stress Relief,35,Stroke,2,Student Travel,1,Style Guide,25,Summer Travel,53,Summer Vacation,8,Supercars,10,Sweden,19,Swiss Alps,1,Switzerland,20,Tahiti,1,Taiwan,3,Tanzania,1,Tarts,12,Tattoos,81,Taxes,7,Teas,2,Tech,89,Tech Advice,12,Tech Education,7,Tech Hacks,19,Tech Updates,2,Technology,154,Teen Advice,4,Teeth,5,Tennessee,6,Texas,57,Thailand,31,Thanksgiving Cake,4,Thanksgiving Travel,5,Therapy,3,Things to Do,165,Tibet,2,Tips,264,Tips & Tricks,6,Tokyo Motor Show,2,Tools & Skills,16,Top Stocks,1,Top Stories,1,Traditional Cake,4,Train Travel,23,Training,1,Transportation,22,Travel,308,Travel Advice,64,Travel Apps,1,Travel Guide,40,Travel Tips,149,Trends,7,Trucks,1,True Health,5,Tunisia,2,Turkey,10,Turkish,1,Tuscany,1,TV,2,UAE,10,UK,40,Ukrine,1,Understanding Women,28,Urban Travel,47,Uruguary,1,USA,629,Utah,12,Uzbekistan,1,Vacation Travel,245,Valentine's Day Cake,7,Valentine's Day Travel,1,Vanilla Cake,17,Vegetables,3,Vehicle Travel,2,Venezuela,1,Vermont,4,Victoria Falls,1,Video,5,Vietnam,5,Virginia,5,Waffles,3,Washington,15,Washington DC,20,Waxing,19,Web & Social,17,Wedding,87,Wedding Cake,549,Wedding Dress,30,Weddings,60,Weddings Travel,4,wei,1,Weight Gain,29,Weight Loss,755,Weird,172,Wellness,193,West Indies,2,Wi-Fi,2,Wildlife Travel,13,Winter Travel,56,Wisconsin,5,Women Lifestyle,23,Women's,272,Women's Health,173,Work Environment,77,Workout,8,Workouts,81,Worldwide,155,Wyoming,2,xxx,1,Yemen,1,Yoga,85,YouTube,3,Zadar,2,Zambia,3,Zimbabwe,4,
ltr
item
Unplugged Magazine: You Don’t Want to Know What Happens to Email You Send
You Don’t Want to Know What Happens to Email You Send
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mcH98g1687I/Xna00co28AI/AAAAAAAACus/Ik8bif5oneowxayJKfB4FR_lApOfXLIzgCLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/email.jpg
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mcH98g1687I/Xna00co28AI/AAAAAAAACus/Ik8bif5oneowxayJKfB4FR_lApOfXLIzgCLcBGAsYHQ/s72-c/email.jpg
Unplugged Magazine
https://unplugged.dearjulius.com/2020/03/you-dont-want-to-know-what-happens-to.html
https://unplugged.dearjulius.com/
https://unplugged.dearjulius.com/
https://unplugged.dearjulius.com/2020/03/you-dont-want-to-know-what-happens-to.html
true
7156791814370638008
UTF-8
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Read More Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy