by Ray Hayes
As of 2017, Yahoo has more than 225 million email accounts of which, 81 million claim to be located in the US. According to Dice.com, among the many users who registered for the site, 55 percent had Gmail accounts, and only a 1.8 percent had AOL accounts. As you can see, Yahoo and AOL email accounts are a somewhat of a dinosaur technology that the majority of Americans have stopped using. If we are able to notice this trend, we can also assume that both company executives have as well. As a result, Yahoo has decided to scan your email accounts for information to sell to advertisers. Yes you are reading this right, your email info is being sold to the highest bidder without your knowledge.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, “the tech giant has scan more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes for info about what people have brought, such as receipts from department stores or automotive loan companies.” AOL has also done the same as its counterpart. The data is grouped in clusters and made anonymous therefore users still have some form of anonymity.
The tech giant’s parent company Oath indicated that although user information is being shared this only applies to emails from organizations and not personal messages. The Wall Street Journal sat down with Oath’s vice president of data, measurements and insights, Doug Sharp, who stated that Yahoo’s research showed that people want more personalized advertisement defending their current data selling. Oath’s privacy pages state that the company makes educated guesses about the users interests based on their activity on the company’s site and apps.
A spokesperson for Oath spoke about the initiatives. “Putting consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their data and building safeguards to protect that data is our top priority. Interest-based advertising around Yahoo Mail does not use personally identifiable information and is developed algorithmically using only commercial emails, never personal emails. Yahoo Mail users have always had the ability to opt out of this process. In fact, we made it easier for all our users to manage their options with a privacy dashboard when we relaunched our policies in April 2018.”
As of 2017, Google no longer scans messages. Therefore, with all the news of AOL and Yahoo selling data to advertisers it may be time to consider Gmail as another option.