Sunday, August 12, 2007

Help Them See

I never heard of the Yahoo group before the other day when a welcome-to-the-group email arrived.

Complete your Yahoo! Groups account: Your email address has been added to the email list of a Yahoo! Group. To gain access to all of your group's web features (previous messages, photos, files, calendar, etc.) and easier control of your message delivery options, we highly recommend that you complete your account by connecting your email address to a Yahoo account. It is easy and free.

A second message arrived at the same time – a profile form for me to fill out and return. I ignored both messages. The next morning another profile form arrived to be filled out. Along with it came several other messages, some profiles of strangers and a few message postings from group members.

I reread the original message. I checked out the website, trying to find how to “opt out” without linking this Mercy And Percy email address to a Yahoo account. I wasted a lot of time trying to find out whether this was even legitimate. Email and web addresses can be faked. Finally, I decided to take Yahoo up on the abuse reporting policy stated in the email.

Report abuse: Because Yahoo! Groups values your privacy, it is a violation of our
service rules for moderators to add subscribers to a group against their wishes. If you feel this has happened, please notify us:

My privacy was definitely violated! I neither signed myself up nor was given any advance notification the group intended to add my email address. I went to the above Yahoo address and circled round and round the site, never able to find a means to report abuse without signing up to link this email address to a Yahoo account.

Now why would I want to give out a lot of personal information for something I did not initiate or approve? It would seem that if Yahoo enables the group to usurp email addresses and add new “members” without permission, then Yahoo should enable those “members” to report abuse without having to sign up for a Yahoo account.

I googled Yahoo abuse and found an email address. My message was returned with the notation they were the wrong department and I should go to this link that took me back to the same point where I went round in circles again. I gave up and there were no messages for a couple of days.

This morning there was a host of emails from the group, including another blank profile form. (I presently have 63 Yahoo group messages.) Again I went round and round Yahoo. Finally I was forced to do the last thing I wanted to do – I replied to the spamming “Christian” group, telling them to delete my email address. They kept sending back you-must-unsubscribe” messages and eventually that’s what I had to do. Unsubscribe to a group I never subscribed to.

I couldn’t believe it but they shot back a form sorry-you’re-leaving message and wanted to know why I was leaving. So I told them. And the message also asked what they can do to make their ministry better. They can stop hijacking email addresses and invite people to join or at provide a means to sign up voluntarily.

I do not want to give them publicity so I won’t name the group, (but you can connect the letters - h e l p t o s e e) but I’m writing this to make you aware Yahoo provides opportunity for groups to harvest email addresses and subscribe people without notice or permission and then makes it impossible to complain without giving out personal information for Yahoo to collect.

It’s too bad neither Yahoo nor the group will read this because it might help them to see – Yahoo, that there is a great weakness in their abuse reporting and group systems, and the group that their “Christian” sign-up system is seriously flawed.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Checking on you...haven't heard from you in awhile....sending warmest hugs, my friend.