Thursday, November 07, 2013

Yahoo Groups and mobile (cell) phones

If you're a member of any Yahoo Groups, not least for business or professional reasons, then read on, because this will apply to you.

Apparently Yahoo have just changed the terms of membership for Yahoo Groups. They kept this remarkably quiet so I've only found out about it through trying to discover why I couldn't get into my own groups any more!

Basically it's now mandatory to give them your mobile (cell) phone number. No mobile phone number, no membership. There is no way round this, no let-out clause, nothing. Which seems a little... draconian, but presumably they want phone numbers so they can sell them on for advertising. Google also ask for a mobile number from time to time, but they at least have a 'don't want to give it' box you can tick. Yahoo don't. You can't even give a land-line number instead; apparently someone tried and it came back with 'invalid number'.

Last time I tried to log into my groups I got a dialogue box asking for my mobile number. I sure as heck wasn't going to give some vast creepy multinational organisation with a reputation for getting hacked regularly anything as personal as that, so I tried leaving it blank. It took me back to the same box. I tried again, same result. Eventually, in tiny print under the box I noticed a link saying "I don't have a mobile phone", so I clicked that. I was in a hurry and not taking much notice, but I'm pretty
sure (aka 99% certain) that there were no terms and conditions, no warnings, no mention of any penalties.

By clicking that link, I have automatically downgraded my membership to 'mailing list only' rather than full membership of any Yahoo Groups. I am no longer a member of any of my groups, including two groups run by my publisher. I can send and receive email, but that's all. I can't even access my groups to change my email preferences, or to leave the groups. I will never be able to do so.  And there appears to be no way to re-access that mobile phone dialogue box, enter the number of (say) an old or non existent phone, and get my membership back again.

I'm not sure all this is even legal - there was no notification that they would be doing this, and no explanation or warning on screen when they asked for the mobile number. But do it they have, and I just wanted to warn everybody else because it will eventually apply to everybody in Yahoo Groups.

Sorry for the rant!

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