The Dangers of Reply All and the Dreaded Accidental Send

We’ve all been there – we just hit send on an email, and before it’s even out of sight we spot a spelling error in the body, or we remember something else that we wanted to say. Luckily these examples are pretty benign and easy to fix with a simple reply (or Undo Send, if you catch it in time), but what happens when you make a big mistake, one that you just sent to the entire staff list?

You may have read last month’s New York Times article outlining what happened when some well-meaning employee in the Utah Department of Corrections intended to invite 80 people to the department’s annual holiday potluck but ended up emailing all 22,000 Utah government employees. Noticing the error right away, the well-meaning employee then emailed again about the error, which also went to all 22,000 employees. As you can imagine, the avalanche of further reply-all emails began to cascade across the entire UT government system, and was eventually resolved when someone in the state technology department realized that “Add all domain users” had inadvertently been selected as they were adding members to a small team Google Group. . What a mess!

For many school districts, this story is all too familiar. Take a look at some of the email fiascos from districts I’ve spoken with, and keep reading the cringe-worthy scenarios below for a quick and easy solution that solved all of these problems.

  1. The Paystub Mismatch

A very well-intentioned technology coordinator, responsible for dispersing timesheets and pay stubs to contracted employees, collated all of the data in a Google Sheet. Using a Sheets Add-on, he automatically sent emails to the employees with their total hours and subsequent pay. One of his columns was misaligned, causing every employee in the Sheet to receive incorrect information in their email.

  1. The Profane Superintendent

Wanting to end the year on a high note, a district superintendent wrote a happy holidays email to all district staff, highlighting some of the big events of the past year. Though the email was proofread by several staff, there were some uncaught typos in the body of the email that translated into unfortunate language, especially coming from a district leader.

  1. The Mortgage Crisis

A hurried teacher, intending to forward completed mortgage application paperwork to her personal Gmail account instead sent the email to the entire staff list. Her employment history, social security number, tax information, and that of her spouse were forwarded to over 200 district employees.

  1. FERPA Breach Fiasco

Similar to the Utah state employees situation, but on a domain shared by students and staff, the domain admin accidentally clicked “Add all domain users” when making changes to the “English department” email group.  A discussion in the group involving sensitive information about a special education student made its way to 3200 student inboxes.

How Small Tech Departments Can Master User Provisioning and Rostering in G Suite

While these scenarios may sound outlandish, they have all happened to actual school districts that we’ve worked with, and I have dozens of other similar stories from others. Whether a send was accidental or malicious, there are many times when technology departments need the ability to quickly and easily delete emails from the domain. One option that has long been the standby for G Suite districts is GAM. A command line tool, GAM can be an unwieldy and time-consuming solution when you need a quick fix.

How Can Amplified Labs Help?

Gopher for Gmail is an Add-on for Google Sheets that takes the guesswork out of email deletion, allowing you to easily pinpoint the email(s) you want to delete from the domain, preview the body of the email, and review the recipient list. This way, you can ensure you are deleting the right message every time, and you can even delete it from users’ sent boxes as well.

If you’ve ever found yourself in an unfortunate Gmail situation like the districts highlighted above, Gopher for Gmail can be your saving grace. Check out the Gopher for Gmail website to learn more and request a quote today or shoot Melanie an email to find out how to benefit from Gopher for Gmail at your district.

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  • Melanie Long
    Data, Implementation, and Engagement Consultant

  • About the Author:

    Melanie lives in Virginia and is based in Amplified IT’s home office located in Norfolk. One of the first members to join the Amplified IT team, Melanie has worn many hats at the company.  She most enjoys interfacing with customers and helping them implement tools that solve common pain points and frustrations. Today she leads the onboarding and interfacing with Labs tool clients, making lives easier and breezier one implementation at a time.