Yahoo And AOL Are Scanning Your Emails For Advertising Data
While it's not a new practice, the fact that both Yahoo and AOL sell user information from emails to advertisers raises serious privacy concerns
Just in case you haven’t made the switch to Gmail and you’re still using AOL or Yahoo to manage your emails, then you’ll be happy to know that both platforms are scanning your emails and selling the juicy details to companies for money. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Oath, the Verizon-owned parent company behind both AOL and Yahoo has been pitching a service to advertisers that scans and analyzes over 200 million inboxes and the data they contain. That data is then used to help advertisers know which products and services will best suit your needs. Depending on how you look at it, this could be seen as either a good or bad thing. If you were to ask Doug Sharp, Oath’s vice president of data, he would probably tell you that it’s just “part of the trade-off users make” in order to get free email services.
Since 2015, Verizon has obtained a variety of media companies, including TechCrunch, HuffPost, Engadget, Tumblr, Yahoo, and AOL, rolling all of them into a single umbrella company called Oath. If you scroll down to the bottom of any of these websites, you’ll see that they are clearly affiliated with Oath. The data that Verizon is obtaining from the millions of user emails will ideally help advertisers laser focus the messages you see on each of these platforms so that you’re getting served the most relevant ads possible.
But none of this is new. Both Google and Yahoo have been mining user data for advertising purposes for more than a decade, although Google announced last year that it would stop using the data from emails for advertising and instead use it for product personalization and other various user-friendly platform improvements.
None of us here at The Sitch have used Yahoo or AOL in over a decade and maybe it’s time for those of you still out there using the email platforms to reconsider other options. Let us know what you think about the practice in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe to The Sitch for more email updates and other entertaining reads.