Wednesday 25 September, 2013
Yahoo has plans for your old email addresses. In the summer of 2013, it began shutting down inactive Yahoo email addresses and Yahoo IDs and giving them to new users. The move was announced in June and the recycling began in July. In August, the new email addresses would be available.
The result is a kind of land rush like there was in the 90s when the email service first started. You can now get fred @ yahoo.com, rather than fred0110_mashedpotato98 @ yahoo.com. You can have a simpler email address that’s easier for everyone to remember. In July, Yahoo began offering users a wish list where they could request their chosen ID.
For users, this means a number of things. You may be able to get the simple, memorable Yahoo ID you’ve been dreaming of. If you haven’t used the service in a while, your account may disappear (Yahoo said it would recycle addresses that hadn’t been used in 6 months to a year). If there are embarrassing posts online that you made years ago with your Yahoo ID, they’ll no longer be associated with you.
There are benefits for Yahoo as well. As Google and Microsoft have moved to center stage in the email world, Yahoo has gone by the wayside. Offering new email addresses is a way to re-engage old users, attract new ones and reward those that actively use the service. This is one of many changes Yahoo is making to revitalize itself.
But for email marketers, this move poses problems. What it may mean is that a small segment of your list’s email addresses will no longer be good. You’ll have high bounce rates and your messages may be sent to spam folders, which could get you blocked by service providers.
To rectify the problem, Yahoo recommended that marketers send messages and watch bounce rates during the period between July 15th and August 15th when the email addresses were inactive but not yet assigned to new users. When a message bounces back from a Yahoo user that hasn’t been active on your list, you can purge the address.
The move has sparked much more serious concerns among privacy advocates and security experts, who say it poses risks to your online identity. Many fear that the task is too herculean for Yahoo to competently pull off, which can put Yahoo user data at risk.
However, Yahoo has enacted security measures intended to protect users’ privacy, such as a new email header that verifies the account creation date so that hackers can’t get ahold of old user data.
While it’s not uncommon for email service providers to shut down dormant email addresses, this is the first time a provider has recycled addresses and IDs and given them to other users.