Unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker all day today, you’ve probably heard that Yahoo! has updated the terms and conditions for using Yahoo! Mail. Apparently Yahoo! will now systematically scan the contents of your mail messages in order to better target the ads they place in your mail. The update apparently includes the following statement:
By using the Services, you consent to allow Yahoo!’s automated systems to scan and analyse all incoming and outgoing communications content sent and received from your account. This includes Mail and Messenger content already stored in your account. Unless expressly stated otherwise, Yahoo! Mail customers will not be allowed to opt out of this feature.
The entire Internet seems to be in an uproar over these changes. Some folks are saying things like “I’m glad I don’t use Yahoo! Mail“, “Users of Yahoo email are furious that changes to the terms and conditions will let the company snoop on their emails.“, etc. The thing that confuses me, though, is how this differs from the Gmail that most of those people are using. As David Land pointed out on Google+, Gmail’s service includes the following statement:
… automatic scanning and filtering technology is at the heart of Gmail. Gmail scans and processes all messages using fully automated systems in order to do useful and innovative stuff like filter spam, detect viruses and malware, show relevant ads, and develop and deliver new features across your Google experience. Priority Inbox, spell checking, forwarding, auto-responding, automatic saving and sorting, and converting URLs to clickable links are just a few of the many features that use this kind of automatic processing.
Why do you suppose everyone is upset about the fact that Yahoo! is implementing this, but never seemed to care about Google doing so? Is it simply the fact that Google is supposedly not “evil”, is it the fact that they never bothered to think about the terms to which they agreed when they signed up for Gmail, or is there something else going on here?
An interesting side note; David also pointed out that:
- Gmail has 200 million users
- Yahoo Mail has 284 million users
- Hotmail has 364 million users