The very name, Yahoo!, appears to be from a different time – when the Internet was new, populated by college-aged geeks who thought putting exclamation marks in a name was a really neat idea.
No more. Too much has happened. First there was the data breach, as we (and everybody else) reported less than a fortnight ago. If you have a Yahoo! account you’d already be well-advised to delete it or at least update the password as someone else may have access to any cards you might have added to it.
And in the last 24 hours we find that the company has been scanning emails and reporting back to the US authorities. This actually tells us some pretty surprising stuff, but the advice now has to be to delete the account.
Do people still use Yahoo!?
There are two questions emerging from the move other than the one about what an individual should do about their account, though.
One is on a corporate level. Verizon has agreed to buy Yahoo! although it’s been remarkably quiet on the subject recently. This latest move must surely have shareholders wondering what they’re taking on and just how tarnished the brand will be in the light of this and the fortnight-old data breach.
The second has to be about the Internet nous of the authorities asking for access to Yahoo! emails in the first place. Yes, it was probably only one of the companies they asked, and by all means it might be the only one that actually said “yes” (or indeed the only one unfortunate enough to be caught publicly).
But do the CIA, FBI or whoever else asked the question seriously imagine people are using Yahoo! in any depth any more? You have to ask what they thought they were going to learn.
This and the events of a fortnight ago leave the brand severely compromised. The best guess is that Verizon will either pull out of the purchase or buy it for any residual assets and quietly kill the name.