Privacy with Yahoo?
December 18, 2005 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Does it bother you to click on Yahoo! links and unexpectedly see your Yahoo! name on the screen because you prefer to store your Yahoo (enough with the exclamation point already) password in a cookie?

It always gives me a jolt when I’m surfing the web, feeling at least somewhat anonymous, click on a Yahoo link, and suddenly find my screen saying “Hi [real name].” Yahoo is one of the few services whose password cookie I don’t routinely nuke; it’s too much hassle to log in each time to check email. So I just did a MetaFilter search and it happened again. It’s the main reason I’ll stick with Google rather than use Yahoo search, because I don’t want to have to remember to log out of Yahoo merely to assuage a velleity. Anybody else have this irritation with Yahoo? Anything I can do about it, short of laboriously logging in and out again?
posted by mono blanco to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
I believe if you have a Yahoo account you can set it to automatically log you out at various intervals. Like you, I hate having to re-enter my password each time I want to check my e-mail, so I have my log-in set for the longest possible time, 24 hours. You can set it for less by going to your inbox, clicking options and going from there.
posted by Brittanie at 3:54 AM on December 18, 2005

Amazon wins on the creepiness scale; the experience there is like walking into an early opening of a big-box store, where customers are encouraged by the staff to participate in reviewing the weekly sales figures, daily goals, then playing morale-building games before the employees head to their respective departments, the registers are opened, and sales flyers are distributed. Oh, yes - let's not forget the zip code requests and cellphone plan offers.

But maybe that's just me. : P
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:09 AM on December 18, 2005

Yes. Creepy and intrusive.
posted by orthogonality at 4:11 AM on December 18, 2005

Amazon's relentless recommendations are annoying, especially since they don't distinguish between things I've bought for myself and things I've bought as gifts. They thought I was gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) because I bought My Fair Lady for my sister.

Also, the Amazon ad that shows up with your name in it when you visit some random web site it pretty creepy.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:32 AM on December 18, 2005

I'm split on this one. The yahoo thing creeps me out, yes, but I like the amazon recommendations and cookie-remembering bits. I don't claim that my position makes any sense.

kirkaracha: you may know this, but you can edit your recommendations so as not to include books you buy as gifts.

(All of my recent experiences with amazon are with so far, there haven't been any cell phone offers or personalized ads on other sites to creep me out yet.)
posted by flipper at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2005

Being a google user, it also keeps track of your searches, etc by cookies. If I want to browse annonymously, I use Safari private browsing which does not use cookies. But then you miss out on functionality. You can also surf with Firefox to not allow cookies, but again, you then have to always enter your passwords over and over.
posted by _zed_ at 7:53 AM on December 18, 2005

Google does the same thing if you have an account. My email address is in the top right when I do a search.
posted by smackfu at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2005

It's creepy and intrusive that yahoo recognizes you when you choose to remain logged in? I guess I just don't understand. Also, Google does the same thing.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2005

To answer your question: No. I am not bothered by it. If it did bother me, I would sign off of Y! and Google and Amazon.
posted by birdherder at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2005

The amazon thing (seeing Hello Joe Smith! on a random website) might shock you at first, but's it really benign. No third party involvement and all that...
posted by jikel_morten at 8:58 AM on December 18, 2005

I am not particularly creeped by seeing my name, but the fact that those companies know so much about me is reason for me to log out regularly, and not use their e-mail service.

Being a google user, it also keeps track of your searches, etc by cookies. If I want to browse annonymously, I use Safari private browsing which does not use cookies.
Google also tracks IP addresses, so if you have a fixed IP that's not anonymous at all. Use something like tor if you want to be anonymous.
posted by davar at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2005

I remember reading somewhere (maybe that this is a cultural thing, Americans generally don't mind the personalised welcome, the British find it verging on offensive.

Amazon do at least let you turn it off:
If you would prefer not to be greeted by name on sites:
Don't greet me by name when I visit other sites to make Honor System payments.

posted by Lanark at 11:43 AM on December 18, 2005

What bugs me is the fact that I now have to log in to flickr just to look at someone else's pictures. That's crap.
posted by attercoppe at 1:44 PM on December 18, 2005

I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that attercoppe.

But as to the main question- uh, what? MeFi greets you (less informally, mind you) by username. I don't understand why this bothers you- this is how a lot of the internet operates these days. How do you think they pay for that free email you enjoy so much?
posted by mkultra at 4:55 PM on December 18, 2005

mkultra, yes, at first blush it seems no different from MeFi's greeting. And in fact I don't mind Yahoo greeting me by name when I deliberately go to Yahoo. I know I'm logged in, so whether they greet me by name or not is irrelevant; I know that they know I'm there.

But two fundamental differences:

(1) Metafilter is smaller and more collegial whereas Yahoo is a T-Rex who recently turned over a dissident to the Chinese security services.

(2) Metafilter has no links or services analogous to Yahoo Groups or Yahoo search, links one could click on inadvertently then suddenly be recognized as the clickee. It feels like a floodlight snapping on and zeroing in on me.

Oh, and Yahoo isn't free to me. I pay for the premium service so to have POP3. Not that that really makes any difference to the irritation I feel at this intrusive behavior.
posted by mono blanco at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2005

I think it bears mentioning that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Amazon's recommendations have a pretty apparent motivation; if they provide me with excellent recommendations, I give them more money.

But Y! and Google's motivation is a bit more subtle: both are selling your traffic patterns to the highest bidder. The more thouroughly they can track your traffic, the more valuable they are to advertisers. The fact that both companies have ads paves the way for oodles of "free" content (Google's GMail, Talk, and search, Yahoo!'s Messenger, Finance, and News).

Personally, I applaud Yahoo! reminding me that, if I don't take adequate precautions, the things I do online can be tied back to me. (Yahoo never sells your name to advertisers, just demographic and traffic info, I don't know Google's policy but it probably is comparable.)

mono blanco hit it right on the head: if someone is tracking what I'm up to, it's nice when they go out of their way to remind me.
posted by jwadhams at 11:27 PM on December 18, 2005

IIRC, you don't have to logout of your yahoo id. You can set a preference to have it say "show offline always," or some such setting. Look under options, either in your mail or in the account preferences.
posted by cass at 9:14 AM on December 19, 2005

The checkbox is in the public profile link for the yahoo id:

"Check the box to hide my online status () from other users."
posted by cass at 9:18 AM on December 19, 2005

Thanks cass, I'll try that although offhand it sounds like it refers to their IM service.
posted by mono blanco at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2005

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