The Groupspaces list for Oxford banking, capital and management consultancy society (CapitOx) was spammed on Tuesday after one student hit ‘reply all’ to an email advertising a J. P. Morgan event.
This prompted a number of replies that were circulated to the whole list alongside members appearing to be signed up to the mailing lists for UKIP, BNP, Young Communist League and the One Direction Fan Club to name a few.
The spam started when one student replied saying, “I’m really looking forward to the Spring Week event on Thursday. I was just wondering what the dress code is for these events.”
Speaking to Cherwell, the student explained, “I didn’t intend to send the email to everyone. I didn’t realise that replying to the Capitox email address would result in all members receiving my message.”
The simple misunderstanding led to a wave of emails taking advantage of the ‘reply all’ feature. Many simply responded that they were not actually on the committee but others took the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed dress code: one student suggested it was “white tie” whilst another suggested wearing “a wife beater”. Other students were genuinely annoyed with a number of emails asking for the spam to stop.
One Second-Year Mansfielder commented, “To be honest I only signed up for the free bottle opener at Fresher’s Fair and don’t want to be a banker – so I don’t really mind.”
More worryingly for some members, however, was the publication of their emails meaning that they could be signed up to a variety of websites.
However, the president of the CapitOx Committee stressed to Cherwell, “the email addresses of our students are still all secure, it was the email address firstname.lastname@example.org that emails were being sent to. Groupspaces works by sending an email to that address, from where emails are sent to our mailing list, so no individual student was signed up for anything.”
He went on, “We sincerely apologise to our members for the problem with the mailing list yesterday. The problem was resolved very quickly in the morning, but the time lag with GroupSpaces servers meant the solution took a few hours to take effect.” As a result, a number of emails were sent between 9.21am and 2.30pm.
One email sent from email@example.com even appeared to endorse UKIP, telling members, “Please stop using the reply all feature of the mailing list. This list’s sole purpose is to allow the committee to inform our members of upcoming networking and employment opportunities. Secondly I’d like to draw your attention to the UKIP subscription message that you should now all have received. We’re very excited to have partnered with UKIP and hope you’ll all consider donating £10 to support the election effort. Best, The Capitox Committee.”
The President has confirmed that this was not sent by any members of the committee , and that “The groups and any other topics mentioned in the chain emails yesterday were not from any members of the CapitOx committee”.
Earlier this month the PPE society was hit by a similar incident, as internet ‘trolls’ external to the University spammed the entire mailing list for an hour.
The situation is now resolved and Cherwell can report, for those planning to attend the event, that the dress-code is “business attire”.