Yahoo Mail scanning your emails for data to sell to advertisers

Yahoo admitted that it does scan users' emails but clarified that it only does so with promotional emails from retailers. Users have the ability to opt out of having their emails scanned but Oath argues that its data collection is just part of supporting Yahoo Mail's free email services.

Yahoo's premium email service, which costs $3.49 a month, also scans users' email but as before there is a way for customers to opt out. However, finding the option to do so is not a straightforward process.

Yahoo puts emails into different categories; for example if someone receives a flight confirmation, they might be put into a "frequent traveler" group. That person might then see advertising for hotel chains that might appear on other websites. AOL, also owned by Oath, scans emails in this way as well, the Journal's report said. Data are aggregated and anonymized, so advertisers wouldn't have access to an individual's information.

Oath's privacy pages explain that the company makes "educated guesses" about people's interests based on their activity on its sites and apps (it also owns Huffington Post and TechCrunch), and provides ads relevant to what appears online. "Oath's automated systems may analyze all content (such as Mail and Messenger content including instant messages and SMS messages) to detect, among other things, certain words and phrases," the company states.

It is possible to opt out "interest-based advertising" using Yahoo's Ad Interest Manager. Just how much you trust the opt-out process will depend on your view of Yahoo, Oath and Verizon, but if you use Yahoo Mail, it's worth knowing where to change the relevant settings as it's not obvious where to look:
  1. Head over to the Ad Internet Manager and make sure you are signed into your account.
  2. In the Your Advertising Choices section, click the Opt Out button.
  3. Click the On Yahoo link above and then click the Opt Out button again.

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