Yahoo: Search for Its Best Customers

October 4, 2016

I love YaHOOT. Sorry, I meant Yahoo. There are some funny things about Yahoot. (Yikes, my spelling checker converts “Yahoo” to Yahoot. We will have to live with this oddity.)

yahoo video logo 2

I read “Exclusive: Yahoo Secretly Scanned Customer Emails for US Intelligence.” I have no idea if the “real” journalist’s news story is accurate. I know that Thomson Reuters is an earnest outfit and would be horrified if a “real” news story contained some off point information.

For my purposes, I will assume that the write up is spot on.

I learned:

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

I love that “people familiar with the matter.” Very solid stuff for “real” journalists.

I circled this passage as well because it contains my favorite alogical word, “all.” Love those categorical affirmatives. Here’s the passage:

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

In addition to the “all,” which I think just might be a little beyond the purple wonder’s technical capabilities, I love the “some surveillance experts.” Who? Are these “experts” friends with “people familiar with the matter”? Never mind. Let’s assume this is true.

Two comments:

  1. Yahoo demonstrated that it could not implement security procedures to ensure that data remained inside the purple palace. Therefore, are the data accurate which have been allegedly “searched”?
  2. Marissa Mayer’s management appears to be the pivot point of the write up. I don’t know whether her management decision in this instance was good or bad, but she seems to have a heck of a track record regarding the “value” of her customers and service users.

To sum up, from fuzzy sources we learn about a secret activity. Who knows what’s true and what’s false at Yahoot. I also wonder about the lack of solid sources in a Thomson Reuters’ story. For goodness sake, “all”, “some” and “people familiar with the matter.”

Remember. Yahoo. It’s a hoot.

Stephen E Arnold, October 4, 2016


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