Because search engine giant Yahoo has been around since 1995 (almost twenty years), it has accumulated abandoned free email addresses that are no longer being used. This creates problems for new users looking to get a new address, as they are quickly running out of options for usernames. Instead of people able to have a username with simply their full name, such as floydmsmith, they are now required to incorporate a long line of numbers, like floydmsmith063292, or use rare words in order to find a username that hasn’t already been claimed.
CNN reported that Yahoo announced via their blog that accounts that have been unused for a year as of July 15 will be freed up to be claimed by other users. Once a user claims a previously used username, they will be contacted in the middle of August to learn if their claim requests have been granted.
Yahoo also asserted that users who want to keep their existing usernames and avoid having them reset and claimed by someone else can do so. They simply need to log in to any of their products (like ymail or Flickr) before July 15.
Although many users looking for a more simple user ID will be elated to learn of this development, there are others who are worried about whether this may pose a security risk. Even if a user hasn’t logged in to an account for a year, if the existing user has been receiving confidential emails at that email address, they could then be seen by the new user.
However, the email provider stands by its resolve that the process can occur easily without any security breaches. During the thirty-day deactivation period, from July 15-August 15, all personal data associated with the existing unused accounts will be deleted, and Yahoo will automatically send an email response to incoming mail senders saying the account is no longer active. Yahoo will also attempt to unsubscribe all deactivated email addresses from any mailing lists or newsletters being received.
It was also asserted that most of the unused accounts aren’t tied to email. Since all personal account information is being deleted, it won’t be difficult to make sure there are no security issues.
The bottom line is that users must take accountability for any usernames they want to keep. For users who want to make sure their account isn’t claimed by Yahoo, they need to log in before July 15.