The Secrets of the Office 365 Mail Flow: Read Receipts on Outlook Mobile Apps

The Background: Don’t get me wrong read receipts are good when you are in a time crunch for scheduling or accommodating a medical situation (Autism) for timing. I have found my Autism and being in a lot of pressure it is important to keep schedules. Some others don’t understand as well and I feel upset and sometimes that I am a burden on others.

In our world we have a lot going on. I moved on my own, try to maintain my own home, medical appointments, insurance bill mistakes, giving credit where credit is due, attending interviews, banking, cleaning, laundry – all with Autism. With my Autism I still have some processing issues – keeping schedules is way more important to myself to maintain my home, physical, and mental health. (AutiPlan – Visual Scheduling)

Read receipts: Yes I do mark messages as read on the computer when I read them and want to let someone know I am working on it. Autism scheduling e-mails, or need some additional time to help out.

My issue is not the “abuse” of read receipts for Autism or help with scheduling (notice the quotes since others sometimes don’t understand my scheduling accommodation).  The issue is the abuse of read receipts for outsourced vendors trying to sell you marketing services, fraudulent products via the use of e-mail to spam your mailbox more.

You will even find some spam messages (phishing included) use read receipts to send more problematic mail without you knowing by simply adding a header to know they hooked you!

The issue at hand: Mobile Phones, including the use of Outlook for iOS, Outlook for Android, Apple Mail, and other mail clients do not understand how to stop read receipts. You can page through e-mail and accidentally tap into the message when trying to delete it out (spam). The phone does not strip read receipts similar to the Desktop version of e-mail clients; however, an organization can strip it in the Mail Flow to prevent cyber security mishaps.

Organizations (and their server administrators) can even expand the rule to make sure for scheduling in HR departments or other roles can send read receipts (again I think of Autism also)!

How to address it: I have created a simple Mail Flow rule in Office 365’s Exchange Server Control Panel / Admin (ECP) that works with stopping read receipts. My previous Exchange rule that stripped incoming Deposition Notification headers tend to slow Mail Flow down too much (incoming and outgoing) and still sent read receipts.

The actual screenshot: Yes I provide the actual screen shot of the Mail Flow Rule so you have a visual guide. For me keeping a screenshot and sharing it helps document it with my Autism and helps others see the actual screen!

What this does: It will reject read receipts (delete them) from inside the organization from being sent in the mail flow (internal and external). The rule can be expanded as mentioned above with conditional statements.