Yahoo Privacy: Be Alert Not Alarmed

If you belong to any Yahoo Groups or use Yahoo in any other ways, you may not know that : (quote follows)

Yahoo uses web beacons to conduct research on behalf of certain partners on their web sites and also for auditing purposes.
Information recorded through these web beacons is used to report aggregate information about Yahoo! users to our partners. This aggregate information may include demographic and usage information. No personally identifiable information about you is shared with partners from this research.

In general, any file served as part of a web page, including an ad banner, can act as a web beacon. Yahoo! may also include web beacons from other companies within pages served by Yahoo! so that Yahoo!’s advertisers may receive auditing, research and reporting.

In general, any file served as part of a web page, including an ad banner, can act as a web beacon. Yahoo! may also include web beacons from other companies within pages served by Yahoo! so that Yahoo!’s advertisers may receive auditing, research and reporting.

Although there is nothing obviously evil about Yahoo’ s use of web beacons I have several problems with them:

  1. They are enabled by default for all Yahoo users, and you have to manually opt out (more info about how to do this is later on in this page). As a rule I don’t like marketing/sales methods that are opt in by default and force you to manually opt out
  2. I don’t like how Yahoo calls the tracking images web beacons. This is a weasel word someone in Yahoo marketing probably thought of instead of using the more accurate and well known name of web bug (a technique for determining who viewed an HTML-based email message or a web page, when they did so, how many times, how long they kept the message open, etc.)

If you’re suspicious like me you’ll want to opt out of this, here’s how to do it:

  1. Open http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/adservers/details.html
  2. After reading that page click the phrase web beacon. That will bring you to a paragraph entitled “Outside the Yahoo Network.”
  3. This will open a page which contains a heading Outside the Yahoo! Network
  4. After reading that page, look for the sentence Please click here to opt-out, and click on the link click here in that sentence
  5. Then STOP!!! as the confirmation button on the next page will opt you back in

Note: This opt-out applies to a specific browser rather than a specific user. Therefore you will have to opt-out separately from each computer or browser that you use.

2 thoughts on “Yahoo Privacy: Be Alert Not Alarmed”

  1. Thank you Neerav. Opt-out I did! Your site continues to be a very useful resource.
    Cheers,
    Mark

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