Archive for October, 2010

Making Products Better by Innovating with Integrity

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Today we are excited to launch the new Yahoo! Mail Beta – a substantially updated version of Yahoo! Mail that will make our leading web-based email service even better.  With the new Yahoo! Mail Beta, you will get an even more comprehensive and seamless email experience that will function across multiple devices. These new communications features will provide you with an easier, faster, and safer email experience, enabling a more productive, entertaining and informed online experience.

Online communications have become so much more than simply email messages.  Millions of times a day people send each other links to videos and pictures and receive notices about activity in their favorite social networks.  Our goal with the new Yahoo! Mail Beta is to make it easier for users to engage in these multi-media and social experiences.  For example, rather than having to click on a link to a video or pictures being shared with you that spawns a new browser window or tab, Yahoo! Mail Beta will provide you with the ability to directly access photo slideshows and video players directly within their inbox from services like Flickr, Picasa and YouTube.  In the future we hope to allow you to easily post comments and status updates directly from email messages as well.  Features like these save you time and allow you to get back to your inbox view easily to complete the tasks you started.

These features are enabled by extending the same basic technology that uses computer systems to identify patterns to identify SPAM, malware and viruses in messages. Leveraging that same pattern-matching technology, we can identify words, links, names, email addresses, and subjects in email to learn what matters most to you.  This allows us to provide you with features such easy access to slideshows and videos in your email. It will also enable us to identify keywords in messages to make advertising more relevant.  Advertising is what supports our free content and allows us to provide unlimited mail storage.  Ads are an important part of the online experience and we’d like them to be at least as useful as the content you are accessing on our services.

How interest-based advertising works and your choices

In order to make our ads more relevant and useful for you, we make educated guesses about your interests based on your activity on Yahoo!’s sites and services – the pages you view, the links you click, the ads you view and click, and the searches you conduct.  Now with Yahoo! Mail Beta, our “guesses” will also be informed by keywords from email.  These keywords may contribute to the interest categories we assign to your browser for interest-based ads that we show throughout the Yahoo! Ad Network.  This scanning won’t cause you to see any more ads in Yahoo! Mail Beta or from Yahoo!, but you will hopefully see more relevant ones.
We are committed to providing consumer control over interest-based advertising.  Yahoo! Ad Interest Manager allows you to see and manage your interest categories or opt-out of interest-based advertising altogether.  You can also see all of our standard interest categories.  If you’ve opted out before, that opt-out remains in effect. No keyword data from email is used to inform interest-based ads from the Yahoo! Ad Network once you’ve opted out.

Innovation with integrity

We are always striving to make our products better. It’s essential in a competitive marketplace and we believe that it’s good for consumers.  This means adding new features, improving design and anticipating the needs of the community of email users. But while new features can be hugely beneficial, change can also be jarring and disruptive, especially when they happen frequently or without advanced notice.  We take it as our responsibility to be very clear about the changes that we make in our products and to describe what effect this might have on you.  I call this innovation with integrity.  Change is a constant and brings great benefits. But if you don’t understand or consent, then it can be a problem.

We have made changes to our Terms of Service and Mail Privacy Policy for the new Yahoo! Mail Beta that address for these new features and features to come. To use the new Mail Beta, we ask you to agree to these changes. We have designed the consent process to be very upfront about what these changes are with a short but very clear consent screen so you can make an informed decision.  The key product changes are put front and center.  This is critically important to us and is the keystone to maintaining our relationship of trust with you and all of our users.

During the beta period for our new Mail product, we welcome your feedback on our new product features and design.   We are really proud of the new Yahoo! Mail Beta and hope that it represents the innovation with integrity that we strive to provide you.  Clarity, honesty and choice are the keys to user trust. We work hard to earn and keep your trust each and every day.

Anne Toth
Chief Trust Officer

Yahoo!’s Fourth Annual Digital Citizenship Summit a Success

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Last week, Yahoo! hosted the fourth annual Digital Citizenship Summit and partnered with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and other leading national nonprofit organizations, including Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, i-Safe, and NetSmartz.  At the event, Northern California educators and child safety experts came together to share ways to create digital environments that put safety within children’s reach, and to encourage students to manage their digital reputations and help prevent cyber-bullying.

Discussions that took place at the event focused on how parents, teachers, nonprofit advocates, law enforcement, and Internet companies can collaborate to create a safer online environment for children. Given the recent increase of concern around cyber-bullying, the discussions at the Summit were very timely, providing educators with the tools and resources to create productive digital environments for students.

You can view what people were saying at the summit here, and view photos from the event here.

We had a wonderful opportunity to capture brief videos of key experts and leaders at the event. We talked to them about their involvement at the Digital Citizenship Summit and how they are working with Yahoo! on efforts around child safety. Also included in the video is the keynote address from Yahoo! EVP and CMO Elisa Steele.

Yahoo Digital Citizenship Summit 10-15-10 @ Yahoo! Video

Huge thanks to all the speakers and educators who joined us. We appreciate your continued dedication to keeping our children safer online, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Stay up-to-date with the latest tools and resources for protecting teens and children online with Yahoo! Safely.

-Catherine Teitelbaum, Yahoo!’s director of child safety and product policy

Sharing Our Responses on Privacy

Friday, October 8th, 2010

A couple of months ago Yahoo!, along with a dozen other online companies, received a letter from Representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton requesting information about our privacy practices.  Protecting user privacy and maintaining user trust are essential and critical aspects of all we do here at Yahoo!  We share Representatives Markey and Barton’s commitment to protecting user privacy online and welcome working with members of Congress to further highlight the many privacy protections Yahoo! already employs throughout all of our services.

If you are interested in reading our complete response to Representatives Markey and Barton, you can read our response letter.

Anne Toth

Chief Trust Officer

Responding Quickly to Your Feedback on Yahoo! Groups

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

As you may know, we recently rolled out some design changes to a small percentage of Yahoo! Groups in the US.  During the rollout, users discovered a bug in the user interface that may have inadvertently allowed some users to see the email addresses of other users that were not previously visible to them.  When we were made aware of this bug, the new design was disabled within 24 hours to make sure that we could adequately investigate the situation.

At Yahoo!, we take privacy very seriously.  Our teams work closely together to ensure that privacy is key component of the product planning process.  We are always working to improve our testing processes to try to ensure that these things don’t happen in the first place.  When we do discover a bug with our products we work quickly to resolve it.  Your trust is paramount to us.

Anne Toth and Jim Stoneham

Nearing One Trillion Impressions

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Yahoo! is excited to contribute to the recently announced Digital Advertising Alliance and the unified support for the Advertising Option Icon.  Providing users with information about how interest-based advertising works and tools to control their experience WITH each ad is an important step forward for modern privacy.  By placing transparency and control within the context of the advertising experience, the industry and Yahoo! are advancing the privacy dialog with users. This is the essence of “Privacy By Design”.

Yahoo! saw the opportunity to significantly increase the level of consumer awareness and control with respect to interest-based advertising through icons and launched an early version of CLEAR Ad Notice or the “Advertising Option Icon” this year.  With north of 700 BILLION impressions on Yahoo! properties in the US, we’re on target to have displayed the Advertising Option Icon over a TRILLION times by the end of the year.

This is just the beginning.  Stay tuned for updates in 2011 as Yahoo! and others in the industry begin passing more detailed information about an ad (called “metadata”) with the ad itself.  This will allow us to provide even more transparency and user choice in the ad serving process.

Shane Wiley
Sr. Director – Privacy & Data Governance

Supporting National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Monday, October 4th, 2010

October marks National Cyber Security Awareness month and Yahoo!, along with our industry peers, will be putting extra emphasis on online safety to help create a safer digital world through education and awareness activities.

Global Online Safety PSA

Today, more and more digital citizens are connecting to each other across various devices and Web services, making online safety paramount. Over the last year, Yahoo! has collaborated with a coalition of government, industry, and nonprofit organizations to develop a powerful and impactful consumer awareness campaign. Today, we have unveiled the unified public awareness message to help digital citizens stay safer online: “Stop. Think. Connect.”

This message evolved from President Obama’s call for a memorable national public awareness campaign focused on cybersecurity, much like the “Click It or Ticket” campaign for seat belt safety. “Stop. Think. Connect.” is designed to be a simple tool that can be easily understood and used by everyone online. It’s a strong, effective message because it is actionable and it puts power in the hands of the user. Through the coalition’s extensive research, we learned that consumers are anxious to take personal control of their online actions and help the greater online community. In our own research, we found this was true, too, with the majority of parents taking action to manage their children’s online safety.

Members of the coalition are supporting this campaign in various ways, including promoting it on their websites and highlighting it in consumer-facing communications. At Yahoo!, we will leverage our network of consumer services, which reaches 600 million users worldwide, to promote and increase global awareness of this effort.


Digital Citizenship Summit

Additionally, we are gearing up for Yahoo!’s fourth annual Digital Citizenship Summit on Oct. 15. Yahoo! is partnering with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and leading national nonprofit organizations to help educators create digital environments that put safety within arm’s reach of children.

Discussions will center on how it takes collaboration among parents, teachers, nonprofit advocates, law enforcement, and Internet companies to create a safer online environment for children. Educational leaders from San Francisco Bay Area schools K–12 will learn strategies to build a safety network, including student guidance techniques and online incident mitigation.

Attendees will also hear from national safety experts, including Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, i-Safe, and NetSmartz.

Educators will receive a sneak peek at iKeepSafe’s Generation Safe™: New Media Mentor for Digital Citizenship program, and will have the opportunity to be a part of the pilot program for free.

And that’s not all. As part of our ongoing efforts with our nonprofit partners, we will be supporting a number of initiatives:

  • Common Sense Media’s national TV and online public awareness campaign, called “Power to the People,” is designed to educate parents about the impact of media and technology on kids. Yahoo! is helping to increase awareness of this campaign by donating advertising inventory across our network.
  • I have been appointed as the co-chair of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI). The FOSI annual conference, to be held Nov. 9–10, is a marquee annual event that brings together thought leaders across government, industry, and nonprofit sectors to collaborate on solutions in online child safety.

It will be a busy and exciting month for Yahoo!’s online child-safety efforts and we are eager to help digital citizens and educational leaders create safer online experiences for themselves and the greater community.

Catherine Teitelbaum, Yahoo!’s Director of Child Safety and Product Policy