Yahoo Tries To Hold Users Hostage By Disabling Automatic Email Forwarding Feature

It's been a long time since I've read Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" but I'm pretty sure there isn't a chapter on holding people hostage. That's generally a bad idea, and so is Yahoo's decision to disable the forwarding feature for its email service, which effectively prevents Yahoo Mail users from hightailing it out of there with a note left behind for anyone that comes looking.

As one Yahoo Mail user told the Associated Press, the timing here is "extremely suspicious." I don't disagree with that observation. Apparently Yahoo flipped the switch on its forward feature at the beginning of the month, and while it doesn't seem to affect users who had already set up forwarding, anyone else looking to leave will have to keep checking their Yahoo account or risk not receiving important emails.

Yahoo Sign

It's completely understandable if Yahoo Mail users want to switch services, too. The company recently revealed that some 500 million accounts had been compromised from a massive security breach that occurred in 2014 (an Yahoo executive says the actual number could be closer to 1 billion), which would be enough to send some users packing. Then it came to light to that Yahoo built a rather sophisticated email scanner for the U.S. government (in particular the National Security Agency) to spy on users.

Given the situation, it's no wonder that some Yahoo Mail users are looking to leave. Unfortunately, without the ability to forward email to a new address, it becomes a cumbersome process. Your options are to let all your contacts know your new email and hope they update their address books accordingly, or to keep checking Yahoo Mail in addition to whatever new provider you settle in with.

Email forwarding isn't some newfangled technology, either. It's been around for well over a decade and is a basic function of email. Nevertheless, Yahoo has it disabled as it supposedly works behind the scenes to, uh, make it work better somehow?

"Automatic forwarding sends a copy of incoming messages from one account to another. This feature is under development. While we work to improve it, we've temporarily disabled the ability to turn on Mail Forwarding for new forwarding addresses. If you've already enabled Mail Forwarding in the past, your email will continue to forward to the address you previously configured," Yahoo says.

This stinks of an ulterior motive and one need not look very far to find one. Before the full extent of the security breach was made public, Verizon agreed to purchase Yahoo for $4.8 billion. Now it's being reported that Verizon wants a $1 billion discount. A mass exodus of Yahoo Mail users would help Verizon justify its position, though coincidentally (or not), Yahoo's making it difficult for a mass exodus to happen.

UPDATE:

A Yahoo spokesperson reached out to HotHardware and provided the following the statement:
"We’re working to get auto-forward back up and running as soon as possible because we know how useful it can be to our users. The feature was temporary disabled as part of previously planned maintenance to improve its functionality between a user’s various accounts. Users can expect an update to the auto-forward functionality soon. In the meantime, we continue to support multiple account management."

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