In a move that has concerned as many as it has surprised, Yahoo has announced that come July 15th they will be recycling email addresses, meaning that previously dead, inactive or dormant email addresses will be up for grabs.
Explained Jay Rossiter, Senior Vice President of Platforms for Yahoo, in a Tumblr post:
Over the last few months, we’ve made exciting changes to some of your favorite Yahoo! products, like Flickr, Mail, Weather, the Homepage and Search. Today, I’m excited to share with you our next big push: we want to give our loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo! ID they’ve always wanted.
If you’re like me, you want a Yahoo! ID that’s short, sweet, and memorable like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com. A Yahoo! ID is not only your email address, it also gives you access to content tailored to your interests – like sports scores for your favorite teams, weather in your hometown, and news that matters to you.
So, how are we making these Yahoo! IDs available? We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start. In mid July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want. In mid August, users who staked a claim on certain IDs can come to Yahoo! to discover which one they got.
So, what about those people who haven’t logged in for over a year because they are using their Yahoo account as a backup archive?
Well, says Rossiter, “What if you haven’t logged into Yahoo! for over a year, but want to keep your Yahoo! ID? It’s easy. All you have to do is log on to any Yahoo! product before July 15th.”
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And, if you don’t, says Yahoo, they will allow someone else to have your Yahoo ID, and will take care of the privacy concerns by deleting everything in and associated with that account before recycling it.
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Ummm, that assumes that all people who haven’t logged in for more than a year will somehow be made aware that they need to log in to their Yahoo account, and do note that this is being announced on a very short timeline.
What this means is that if you are using Yahoo to store anything (be it a backup email archive, or pictures, or anything), and you haven’t logged in for a year or more, and if you don’t get the message that you need to log in to preserve your Yahoo login ID, well, you are going to lose everything.
But wait, there’s more. Because if you are using Yahoo as a backup email archive, by forwarding email from another email address to your Yahoo ID, then the person who now has your newly-recycled Yahoo email account is going to be receiving your email. And if you haven’t read this article, or Yahoo’s Tumblr blog, you won’t even know.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. For Yahoo IDs with email address which have been around for years and years, just imagine how many spam lists they are on – oh the spam you will see!
Yahoo says that they will also unsubscribe any recycled IDs from any commercial mailing lists before releasing them to the general public, but that’s not the same as all the spam mailing lists, and spam email address lists, that they will be on.
So far, we have yet to find anyone who thinks that this is a good idea. Anyone? Anyone?
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