Let’s say your name is Lintbrush McCheesepants. Back in the day, maybe you had the Yahoo! email address firstname.lastname@example.org or simply an ID you used to access Flickr and whatnot. Now perhaps it’s fallen to the wayside in favor of Gmail, but you’ve kept it as a back-up address. You might want to stake your claim and sign in before July 15, as Yahoo! announced it’ll be freeing up inactive IDs on July 15. Cue the claim jumpers.
Yahoo! made the announcement via a post on its newly-acquired Tumblr, cheering itself on with the decision to let the Alberts of the world make themselves known via email:
Over the last few months, we’ve made exciting changes to some of your favorite Yahoo! products, like Flickr, Mail, Weather, the Homepage and Search. Today, I’m excited to share with you our next big push: we want to give our loyal users and new folks the opportunity to sign up for the Yahoo! ID they’ve always wanted.
If you’re like me, you want a Yahoo! ID that’s short, sweet, and memorable like email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. A Yahoo! ID is not only your email address, it also gives you access to content tailored to your interests – like sports scores for your favorite teams, weather in your hometown, and news that matters to you.
So, how are we making these Yahoo! IDs available? We’re freeing up IDs, that have been inactive for at least 12 months, by resetting them and giving them a fresh start. In mid July, anyone can have a shot at scoring the Yahoo! ID they want. In mid August, users who staked a claim on certain IDs can come to Yahoo! to discover which one they got.
While Yahoo! says it’ll be easy to keep your ID by simply logging in before July 15, we’re willing to bet there are plenty of people who won’t hear of this change until it’s too late.
That raised some flags for Wired.com’s Mat Honan, who pointed out that if a stranger were to get ahold of an address a user has as a back-up. Ostensibly, said stranger could be a crafty villain who could then use your old ID to gain access to your current email accounts and passwords, triggering a long slide down a slippery slope of identity theft.
As such, Yahoo! is appeasing critics by saying that even if your old email address goes to a new person, any private account information won’t be carried over with it.
Our goal with reclaiming inactive Yahoo! IDs is to free-up desirable namespace for our users. We’re committed and confident in our ability to do this in a way that’s safe, secure and protects our users’ data. It’s important to note that the vast majority of these inactive Yahoo! IDs don’t have a mailbox associated with them. Any personal data and private content associated with these accounts will be deleted and will not be accessible to the new account holder.
To ensure that these accounts are recycled safely and securely, we’re doing several things. We will have a 30-day period between deactivation and before we recycle these IDs for new users. During this time, we’ll send bounce back emails alerting senders that the deactivated account no longer exists. We will also unsubscribe these accounts from commercial emails such as newsletters and email alerts, among others. Upon deactivation, we will send notification for these potentially recycled accounts to merchants, e-commerce sites, financial institutions, social networks, email providers and other online properties.