Privacy watchdogs went on the alert recently when a new version of Yahoo! mail included targeted ads. How can they target you if they don’t read your email?
Well they do. Sort of. Just as with Gmail and AOL, computerized “bots” (short for software robots) scan emails looking for keywords. If they see words like football and baseball, they send that person ads for team memorabilia, sports channels, etc. They’re called “targeted ads” ads aimed at specific customers. Google has been doing this for years.
We prefer targeted ads to untargeted — who wants to see ads for pianos if you’re not a musician? And, the Yahoo ads are really colorful, instead of the plain text ads from Google. So far we’ve seen ads for laptops, credit scores and of all things, wrinkle cream. None of these were of the slightest interest. If you just hate the idea of receiving targeted ads, you can opt out by going to www.tinyurl.com/offYahooAds. To opt out of all ads, install a free extension, such as Adblock Plus.
A neat thing about the new Yahoo! mail is the free apps that come with it. You get unlimited storage on your personal online drive, the ability to interact with Facebook friends, nice photo editing, a calendar, some fun fonts to use for your email, the ability to attach large files (100 megabytes) and an automatic email organizer.
Here’s another reason you might want to try it: Yahoo lays claim to being the number one spam blocker, blocking 550 billion spam messages a month. And the new version is said to be twice as fast. Unfortunately, we have no way of checking that.
Google the words “yahoo beta” to or go www.overview.mail.yahoo.com to get more info or sign up.
(An End Note or what academics would call a “Nota Bene:” If you are concerned about all the invasions of privacy going on today, and want to do something to stop it you’re too late. There are so many ways to find our who you are, what you’re doing and your preference in breakfast cereal, that you are shouting into a wind storm.
Every car you rent and almost every truck on the road, has a GPS monitor that tells the owner where that vehicle is at every moment, how it got there and how long it’s been there. Even Caterpillar, the country’s largest maker of earth moving equipment, has sensors that tell the equipment owner how it’s being used and whether the operator leaves it running on their lunch hour.
This is simply business. Everybody wants to cut costs and sell products. Waste costs money. Thirty years ago at the Chicago Tribune, back when everyone used “dumb terminals” instead of PCs, the publisher wondered what the reporters and editors were really doing as they tapped away at their keyboards. So the main frame computer analyzed this and found that thirty percent of their time was spent playing a text game called “Adventure.” That was promptly removed.