Yahoo Accused of Holding Email Users Hostage

John Lister's picture

Yahoo has blocked users from automatically forwarding incoming emails to an account with a rival provider. Many are interpreting it as an attempt to stop users jumping ship after revelations of a major security breach.

The forwarding feature is pretty much a standard feature across the webmail industry, and means users can change from one account to another without having to worry about missing out on an important message during the switchover.

Officially Yahoo says the feature is only temporarily disabled. It says the move was planned in advance and is to allow it to work on a range of improvements to its service for people with multiple email accounts.

Users Cry Foul Over Timing

However, several tech experts and users quoted by the Associated Press say they are extremely suspicious of the timing. They believe Yahoo is intentionally making it more awkward for users to quit the service: not having auto forward means they will have to keep checking their old accounts to make sure they haven't missed out on telling anyone of their change of address. (Source:

Some users have opted for the workaround of including an out-of-office message explaining they've got a new account and giving the new address. The problem is that this won't work for many automated emails such as newsletters and promotional offers.

Yahoo Suffers Dual PR Blow

While no firm figures are available, it's seems plausible that the number of people wanting to quit Yahoo would be on the rise right now. Last month it emerged that hackers had accessed details including passwords and security questions affecting more than 500 million accounts. Questions over what Yahoo knew and when have even led to calls for a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

That was followed by separate revelations that Yahoo had given the FBI access to incoming emails to scan for a specific string of characters as part of an investigation into a terrorist group. Although backed by a court order, the scan caused controversy as it involved looking at the emails of all users rather than specific suspects. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you believe Yahoo's claim that the auto-forwarding has been blocked as part of routine maintenance? If it is deliberately trying to deter customers from leaving, is it acting fairly? Should auto-forwarding be a right for email users?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Based on all my years of programming solutions for email and email interfaces, I really can't see why forwarding would be turned off. It's a fundamental part of email and has been put in place for decades. It's a matter of enabling a field and having the configuration file scan for a forwarding address. If there's a forward, then an email goes to the other address.

dbrumley3077's picture

I would like to find a solution that would enable me to copy or move all of my saved Yahoo emails to another webmail application.

I have far to many emails saved to attempt to forward each one individually to the new account; what I need is some way to automate this process.

I do not necessarily want to delete the Yahoo account, just back all of it up to another application.

Do you have any ideas or ways this could be done?

Thanks for the very informative newsletter.

Kalisun's picture

I think this program would help you's called MailStore, there a free version and paid one. I've used the free version of it in the past and it's great!

Hope this helps!

dan400man's picture

dbrumley3077, I believe you can download all of your emails using Mozilla Thunderbird. In the past, I did this with several of my gmail accounts, and I gotta think this capability exists for yahoo as well. Unless, that is, yahoo has disabled the settings that allow this, which is not unthinkable, given yahoo's latest behavior.

Time's picture

I can't even change any of my information except my nickname. It's the only thing they will let me change. I'm blocked from changing anything else or seeing what other information they have stored on me. I don't like the Idea they waited so long to tell people that personal information was stolen!

matt_2058's picture

This sounds familiar. Didn't another free email provider do something similar awhile back?