The Oxford PPE Society has had to apologize after dozens of emails were sent out to all members of its groupspaces page, many of which were sent by what appears to have been internet ‘trolls’ from outside the University.
The original inquiry read, “I joined PPE Society on the door at the Shami Chakrabarti event yesterday evening, but don’t think I was added to the list of members even though I paid the full £10. I was asked to email you to confirm my membership. If you can confirm that I have been added, that would be much appreciated.”
However as the email was sent to email@example.com it was received by the entire PPE society mailing list.
The matter was made worse by people complaining about the situation as the emails were received by everyone. One member wrote “Please stop sending me irrelevant emails,” which was sent to everyone on the groupspaces mailing list. Another person complained to everyone on the list, “Everyone. If you hit reply you are replying to everyone on the freaking list of group spaces. So stop it. Send your personal inquiries to the designated recipient.”
One person using a non-Oxford email account sent round spam messages to all members afterwards, asking “How do you feel about Benedict Cumberbatch getting married?” and “Do you have a no Jews policy?”
According to the PPE Society President Victor Jivanescu more than 50 emails were received within the space of 20 minutes, with the whole incident lasting for about an hour.
When asked about how the situation was eventually dealt with, Jivanescu explained to Cher- well that “As I saw that some actually enjoyed this situation I took the only responsible action and changed the settings of our mailinglist to only allow group managers to access the ‘reply to all’ function. The first email came in at about 11:10 and by 12:10 the situation was under control and no more messages were received.”
Immediately after the incident, Victor Jivanescu sent round an email to all members saying, “On behalf of the PPE Society, we would like to notify you that we are sorry that this error has occurred, we stopped sending emails to everyone and replied only to particular senders.
“If you would like to not receive these emails any more than please stop using the groupspaces address (i.e. stop replying). Stop sending general emails to be removed from the list because you can do so yourself and you are only spamming people’s accounts. Don’t let this situation get out of control.”
Meanwhile the author of the original email commented to Cherwell, “Obviously, I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house or to use technology. Something perfectly innocent became quite embarrassing quite quickly, but it’s all been laughed off, so who cares?”