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Yahoo scans emails to figure out your buying habits



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  • Oath — the Verizon business that includes Yahoo and AOL
    — scans user emails for ad targeting, The Wall Street Journal
  • The practice isn’t new, but Oath has recently been
    pitching advertisers a service that scans more than 200 million
    inboxes for buying habits.
  • The rest of the industry has pretty much stopped
    scanning emails, making Yahoo and AOL the only major email
    providers to do this.

If you’ve got a or an email address, your
emails have probably been scanned to figure out what you might

That’s because Verizon’s advertising business Oath — which owns
Yahoo and AOL — has been pitching advertisers a service that
scans more than 200 million inboxes for data on consumer buying
habits, The Wall Street Journal

The service benefits advertisers by identifying consumers who buy
certain services or receive some targeted commercial
correspondence. For example, Yahoo users who receive emails about
driving for Lyft might be identified as self-employed.

Then, tagging data are placed on these users’ computers to that
advertisers know how to target ads specifically to them.

The practice of scanning inboxes has largely fallen out of
practice by the rest of the industry, as data privacy grows in
importance to users. Yahoo and AOL are the only major email
providers to conduct such scans on inboxes, according to The

“Email is an expensive system,” Doug Sharp, vp of
data, measurements and insights at Oath, told The Journal. “I
think it’s reasonable and ethical to expect the value exchange,
if you’ve got this mail service and there is advertising going

The practice of scanning Yahoo user email is not new, but it has
expanded over the years, especially as Oath was created in
2017 to compete against the Facebook-Google duopoly. Oath’s
privacy policy also allows for Yahoo human employees to review
sections of some commercial emails.

These practices have raised questions and concerns about
data privacy in the industry, according to The Journal.

Get the latest Yahoo stock price here.

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