As I’m sure most of you know, Yahoo has changed its policy and from the beginning of the month. I’m sure it was a way for its new director, Marissa Mayer, to show that she can help raise the value for its shareholders after coming on board with the company. That’s all fine and good. In fact Yahoo has made it appear as if it’s a way of helping to prevent scams and help people avoid content of malicious intent. If this were all, I’d be ok with it.
But reviewing the language in the new TOS, it seems there is reason to keep an eye on this situation. For example, how Yahoo can now share information with affiliates. This point was brought up on an anonymous Jottit where a user writes: “This means any message that Yahoo's algorithms find disturbing could flag a user as a bully, a threat, or worse. At the same time, Yahoo can now openly troll through email for personal information that it can share or hold onto indefinitely.”
Now I don’t have worries like the examples in that story, but being cynical as I am, I have found other things that would affect me personally. First is an easy one, selling valid emails for the use of spam. God knows there are lots of spam emails out there and the thought of getting more because of corresponding with a Yahoo mail user is perhaps reason enough to avoid them. My larger concern is what if this information - of say complaint of tummy issues or other health-related things - that I may have been inclined to talk about was sold and tallied? It could become a standard to background checks for employment where people are given a score and a poor score is grounds for an applicant to be passed over for a job. Now it’s not like I have severe ailments like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol like some people might. Those would surely raise flags to any employer if they could access medical information. But perhaps complaints of back pain or gastric-related issues might bring a score down, and is it really worth it? After all, Yahoo’s TOS isn’t just for the people who use Yahoo, but the people whom they are corresponding with who haven't agreed to those terms.
So to protect my personal account in Gmail, here is what I’ve done. I went to Settings then to Filters. Using the asterisk (*) because of its wild card properties, I entered *yahoo* in the ‘from’ field. Basically it translates as any incoming email from a sender whose email contains ‘yahoo’, regardless of its extension since Yahoo has more than just a .com. The asterisk in the back will catch the others like .com.sg, .co.uk, etc. Next I clicked the ‘create filter with this search’ and chose the delete option. This keeps it from even being seen.
Now these may be drastic measures on my part, but if enough people follow my lead, perhaps Yahoo might change their policy or go off and die. I really don’t care. I have the right to protect my personal information and have seen how Yahoo has killed its previous services with the aim of gaining profit in the past. A prime example might be Geocities where I first practiced my HTML skills. In 1999 Yahoo purchased Geocities for $3.57 billion in stock. When Yahoo took over, it was its TOS that really was the death of Geocities. The terms stated that the company owned all rights and content, including media such as pictures. Though Yahoo quickly changed its stance, it was really too late as most of us had left to find safer ways to deliver content. So it’s no wonder that with the new acquisition of Tumblr and now these new terms of service, one might question if Yahoo is really taking the correct steps to increase its revenue.
So in closing, I’m not saying I have anything against Yahoo users; I’ll just not be hearing from them. There isn’t reason for everyone to share in my paranoia, but if you do... you now know how to work your email settings like this geek.