I’ve always wondered about the type of folks that forward emails sent to them to unrelated third parties. For me, it is unseemly and a breach of trust.
That email was sent to you — and for you to share your sarcastic comments or to e-tattle reflects negatively on you. Now we have the same situation with texts and IM/SMS messages.
A Net [email protected] site visitor asks…
I guess you could say it depends on your motives. For example, are you gossiping?
My first reaction is sharing another person’s written words without their knowledge is not what friends generally do. And, just pasting a section can lead to comments taken out of context and misunderstandings.
If your motives are pure, ask the other person if you could share their IM and let them know with whom you will share it. If you are afraid to ask — then your motives are questionable.
The same goes if you forward another person’s email comments without their knowledge. Again, that email/IM/text was sent to you unless otherwise stated is for your eyes only.
It’s About Trust
Of course, the topic’s sensitivity and your motives matter. For example, it would be one thing if you asked A if you could share with B, and they approved, but quite another to intentionally share without their knowledge to poke fun or to show your disagreement.
Put yourself in that situation; how would you feel if you sent an IM to one person and it is sent to another without your knowledge? Content and context matter.
Forwarding any content without the original author, creator, emailer, or IMer’s explicit permission is neither proper nor legal. If the conversation was with A, you should ask their permission to share.
What kind of friend are you?
Without the other person’s permission (meaning you asked them specifically and told them precisely what you would be doing), you should not forward privately or publicly anything they have written in whole or in part.
Whether it is an email, instant message, or text, you should think about how you would feel if the tables were reversed. What kind of friend are you?
Besides the ethics and integrity, or lack thereof, behind your decision, Copyright law that covers the written word comes into play. I have an entire article covering Online Copyright issues that every onliner should familiarize themselves with: Online Copyright Myths and Considerations.
Be the kind of friend you would expect your friends to be!