I have a few problems with Yahoo. They are:
1. The very regrettable incident where they outed a Chinese dissident who is now in a Chinese prison.
2. An odd relationship with SBC
3. Being a primary source of revenue for spyware vendors while also providing an anti-spyware solution.
First the Shi Tao incident. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information that allowed them to tie emails to his IP address thus his computer. The 37 year old reporter is serving TEN YEARS in prison.
"We already knew that Yahoo! collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
There is not much that will get me out in the streets throwing bricks and breaking windows. But this does. I call on the great entrepreneurial companies of our time, these brilliant stars that represent free thought and freedom of expression, to stand against censorship and political persecution. Are you listening Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft? Pandering to China is pure greed. Tell them to take a hike.
I am afraid that my other points pale in comparison to the the above but anyway....
Yahoo! plus SBC. Have you signed up for DSL from SBC? When I did I was asked for my Yahoo! ID. Later when I went to sign into Yahoo! mail my password had been changed! When you call Yahoo! to reset your password they hand you off to SBC. The mind boggles at the engineering feat it must have been to do that. But, wow, that is a tight business relationship. And, I don't like the idea that I may be traveling in Istanbul and feel it necessary to change my Yahoo! password and have that cut off my DSL back at home. This bizarre relationship between Yahoo! and SBC is even stranger in light of the CEO of SBC's cause-for-termination remarks about making Yahoo! pay for bandwidth that SBC's customers use. Huh? And this is the company the FTC just said could acquire ATT!
Now, what about spyware? Various articles have pointed out that a paid search company called overture provided up to 20% of the revenue of such adware stars as Claria, WhenU, Direct Revenue and 180Solutions. But guess what? Yahoo! owns Overture. Yahoo! presumably gets a big cut of that advertising revenue before they pass it on to the adware vendors who pass it on to their affiliates and distributors. Check out Ben Edelman's dissection of this congerie of companies.
Toss in the fact that Yahoo! has an anti-spyware tool bar and you have a lot of less than savory business practices on the part of this Internet giant.
My advice to Internet companies: "When in doubt, do the right thing."