Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last six months, or are otherwise engaged in the fug of new motherhood, which, let’s face it, is like living on another planet, you’ve probably heard that Microsoft has been automatically ‘upgrading’ Hotmail users to its new Outlook programme. Whether you like it or not. I’ve finally been Outlooked, and while I can see the benefits, there is one slightly alarming feature: a profile image of the email sender now appears next to their name.
This is all well and good, in theory, however said image is programmed to be taken from your social networking sites, meaning if you’ve (unwittingly) saved a picture of yourself on Twitter or Facebook, it will automatically appear next to your name when you send an email.
I’m not sure whether a picture of me peering out at my recipients through my plastic framed glasses with an ‘is this webcam working’ expression on my face (pictured) is a good idea or not. If I’m sending an email to my mum its harmless enough, but a managing director I need to interview for a story? Presumably I could disable the function, if I knew how.
This is continuing to trouble me, but in the meantime it’s an endless source of fascination and entertainment. I’ve finally got to see the faces behind the emails of people I’ve been communicating with for ages, but have never met, and of course no-one looks like one had imagined. And the pictures popping up range from the boring to the deranged to the frankly pornographic. Does the PR girl from one particular agency I deal with realise what appears to be a picture of her having had one too many while wearing a very short skirt on holiday in Torremolinos now pings up alongside her professional emails? And why doesn’t someone tell the guy from a marketing company which will remain nameless that dropped-crotch jeans are really not a good look. On him.
The question is, where will it end? Excerpts of (inane) tweets the sender has composed that day next to their profile picture? A list of who’s ‘poked’ who for the perusal of the Outlook recipient? The mind boggles, but one thing I do know: someone is bound to come a cropper.
I just hope it’s not me.