Yahoo Has Joined the War for Your Online Identity—About Half a Decade Too Late

madpixblue/Shutterstock.com

For nearly half a decade, Yahoo has been giving away its most valuable asset to its rivals. Now it has decided that that must stop.

For nearly half a decade, Yahoo has been giving away its most valuable asset to its rivals. Now it has decided that that must stop.

About 800 million people use one or more of Yahoo’s services every month. Some of those many millions log into Yahoo with their Google or Facebook credentials. This reduces what tech types call “friction,” or the trouble creating a separate username and password to use Yahoo. But that also means Google and Facebook get access to some basic data about what these people are doing on Yahoo’s sites. And in the competitive world of web advertising, where user data is the currency with which consumers pay for free online services, giving away even a little bit of that data to rivals is akin to Coke handing out its formula to every cola manufacturer in town.

Reuters reports this morning that Yahoo is sticking its finger in the dike. Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’Em, a college basketball-themed service, will be the first for which Google and Facebook credentials will not be accepted. Over time, the changewill be introduced across all of Yahoo’s services, the company said in a statement.

Yahoo’s decision is a bold but necessary one. It signed up with Facebook in 2009 (paywall) in the hope that the deal would boost its user numbers. It had a similar arrangement with Google. (Indeed, Google too once allowed users to sign in with Yahoo, back when it launched its now-shut Wave service.) By pulling back, CEO Marissa Mayer, who was brought in to inject some life into the ailing company, is asserting that Yahoo has bigger ambitions than to be just another web service. Thousands of sites online accept Google, Facebook or Twitter credentials; Yahoo is signaling it wants to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these giants, not be subservient to them. Its “sign in with Yahoo” service is already used by some sites, such as Hightail, a file-sharing service. Both Google and Yahoo use a standard established by OpenID, an open-source, decentralized organization.

Online identities are a growing area of interest across the industry, as the value of user data becomes clear. As UnboundID, an identity-management company, puts it (pdf, p.1), “In the identity economy, empowered customers will freely offer up identity data to serve their own interests—and the companies they do business with will reap unprecedented rewards.” In report calling personal data a “new asset class” the World Economic Forum and Bain, a consultancy, estimate that just two services—identification and authentication of users, and “offerings to profile and target customers for individualised advertising”—could be worth $52 billion by 2021 (pdf p.4).

Established web services aren’t the only ones anxious to manage your online identity. Independent efforts led by the academic institutions also exist. And the telecoms industry has established identity as one of the pillars of its strategy (pdf) to the end of the decade.

In the short term, Yahoo may lose some users who can’t be bothered with creating another identity. But in the long term, it is now in the right race, even if it’s joining several years late.

(Image via madpixblue/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.